There have been many keys to Chelsea's success over the past decade or so, but one of the ones that gets a bit less attention than most is the level of leadership that had been present in the squad, in the "Old Guard." We often talk about needing winners, but we should not forget about having leaders. Especially since we've tended to go through managers almost as quickly as, say, Real Madrid. Even if Mourinho does stick around for many more years, we cannot discount the value of leaders on the pitch and in the dressing room (see Terry's words on Loftus-Cheek or Mark Bosnich for recent and not-so-recent examples).
While national team captaincy is not the end-all, be-all of leadership, it is a pretty good indicator. We used to be famous for featuring several of them in the squad. But the likes of Ballack and Drogba (and Smertin from way back when) are all gone. Lampard (England vice-captain), Essien (Ghana vice-captain), Carvalho (Portugal vice-captain), too. Not to mention players like Claude Makelele, Mark Schwarzer, David Luiz, Samuel Eto'o, or Claudio Pizarro (and even Andrei Shevchenko!) who all had served as captains of their respective national teams at one time or another. And there may be more whom I've forgotten about.
We are currently down to just three, and probably less pretty soon when Petr Cech leaves. Mikel (Nigeria captain) and Ivanovic (Serbia captain) are left holding down the fort, and the former keeps coming up quite regularly in transfer rumors as well. We do have Gary Cahill of course (England vice-captain). And fortunately it does look like Mourinho will be around for a decent while, so we have time to develop a new generation of leaders (and winners).
Belgium have a new vice-captain: Eden Hazard. Kompany is suspended, so he'll lead out the team vs France & Wales. pic.twitter.com/f4U94jqBAS— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) June 3, 2015
Perhaps a bit surprising, that, at first glance, for Mr. Carefree, but here's noted Hazard-critic Marc Wilmots (who just so happens to also be the national team's head coach) on why he named Hazard his vice-captain.
"Earlier I had the trio of Kompany, [Thomas] Vermaelen and [Jan] Vertonghen [for the national team's captaincy]. Thomas Vermaelen has had some problems in the last two years. Eden himself has changed enormously. It's a choice. He already knew I was not going to wait until the game against France to tell you [aboout his promotion to Belgium's vice-captaincy]."
-Marc Wilmots; source: RTBF via Inside Futbol
Eden Hazard, captain, leader ... future legend. Part of the New Guard.