Chelsea acting captain Gary Cahill is set for his 53rd England cap, and fifth as captain as the Three Lions take on Germany tonight at Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund.
Gareth confirms that @GaryJCahill will captain the #ThreeLions tomorrow: "He's in very good form." https://t.co/P3x0VwSs3N— England (@England) March 21, 2017
England have yet to lose with Cahill as captain, including a win in this exact same fixture almost exactly a year ago when they beat Germany 3-2 in Berlin. Cahill’s other England captaincies included a 2-0 win over Estonia, a 2-1 win over Turkey, and the 0-0 draw against Slovakia at last summer’s Euro 2016 tournament.
Cahill of course is used to winning as captain this season, having taking over the duties that have belonged almost exclusively to John Terry since 2004 at Chelsea Football Club. But with JT at the tail end of his playing career and no longer a starter for Conte’s Chelsea, Cahill has stepped in to capably fill those legendary boots. Well, as much as anyone can fill the boots of one of Chelsea’s all-time greats.
“I would never try to fill John Terry’s boots. You can never fill that position. When I took over as captain this season, either through him not being picked or not being available, it was a privilege to do that. [...] I never thought for one minute, or will ever think, that I’m replacing him. He is right at the top and whoever comes in after him is never going to achieve what he’s done at the club.”
Even beyond getting to wear the armband with such regularity, it’s been quite the season for Cahill, who’s slowly become one of the elder statesmen at the club. He’s usually the oldest player on the pitch in fact, but usually the steadiest. And yet, that was hardly a given not that long ago, when a series of high profile errors led directly to dropped points for Chelsea (and the subsequent change in formation as well that has proven so decisive for the club’s season).
When Conte switched from the 4-3-3 to the 3-4-3, Cahill was the only defender to retain his previous spot, on the left side of the central defensive setup. Everyone else was either dropped (Terry, Ivanović) or moved around (Azpilicueta) or introduced as new key players (David Luiz, Alonso, Moses). It was a bold move from Conte in many respects. And it was a move that’s paid off in almost all respects, including the part about keeping faith in Cahill, who has more than repaid it.
“I always think coming through adversity is a sign of character. Getting criticised just puts that fire in my belly. I want to go out and prove people wrong. I have been doing that all of my career. I would say that to a young lad coming through. That this is the way it’s going to be, especially at a big club like this.”
“The criticism I had at the start of the season was tough but people don’t seem to see what I have done at Chelsea. There have been many good players that have come to Chelsea and have been gone after a year or two. Chelsea have the ability to buy players from all over the world but it’s a credit to me that I’m still here.”
“There is a reason I’m still here, still playing. There is a reason behind why the manager picks players. The coach sees players day in, day out, knows the character and the way that they play. You’re not going to play for this club if you don’t have ability or if you don’t have character.”
-Gary Cahill; source: Evening Standard
Go and get ‘em, England’s Brave Gary Cahill!