England captaincy: the journey of the armband

The journey of the England armband from Ottaway to Sven's big giveaway


Captain Fantastic: Bobby Moore led England with distinction a record 90 times

Captain Fantastic: Bobby Moore led England with distinction a record 90 times

Bobby Moore and Billy Wright share the record of 90 caps as England captain but these days the armband is handed around like a smelly vest. There have been 110 official England captains and in the last decade the skipper has been substituted an astonishing 42 times.

The day Sven made the armband a joke

When England beat Serbia and Montenegro 2-1 in a friendly at the Walkers Stadium on June 3, 2003, it was not a glorious day for English football. Sven Goran Eriksson handed the armband on an astonishing four times.

Regular captain David Beckham was injured, so Liverpool’s Michael Owen (0-45 mins) was made captain, before Emile Heskey (46-61min), Phil Neville (62-87min) and Jamie Carragher (88-90min) all took a turn. With Serbia making 11 changes to England’s 10, a total of 43 players featured in the one game.

In 2008 England had four official captains in the same year — Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and David Beckham.

Unofficial captains

Players who have received the armband during a game — usually because of substitutions or sendings-off — are not considered by the FA as being official England captains.

Unofficial: Ashley Cole is one of several to have worn the armband without official appointment to the role

Unofficial: Ashley Cole is one of several to have worn the armband without official appointment to the role

They are: Robbie Fowler, Danny Mills, Emile Heskey, Phil Neville, Jamie Carragher, David James, Gary Neville, James Milner, Ashley Cole.

Starting a tradition

Cuthbert Ottaway was England’s first captain — leading them in their first international against Scotland on Nov 30, 1872. Alexander Morten was the first captain to play on home soil — and win a match — against Scotland a year later.