Over the weekend, Antonio Conte confirmed that Gary Cahill will be the official Chelsea club captain for this season, the first time that distinction has gone to somebody other than John Terry since 2004, which is when Jose Mourinho bestowed the honor (on a permanent basis) to JT. Terry had captained the side before then of course (when he played and Marcel Desailly didn’t), but was not named the club captain until 2004.
When Mourinho named Terry the captain, he also named a certain Frank Lampard his vice-captain. That leadership-partnership would last for the next decade, until Lampard’s exit from Chelsea to NYCFC (via Manchester City via NYCFC via Manchester City via NYCFC). The vice-captain role then passed to Branislav Ivanovic, until his own departure from the club last January. So who’s next to serve as Cahill’s deputy? According to the official Chelsea website, it will be Cesar Azpilicueta. We had assumed this would indeed be the case, but now it’s official.
I couldn’t think of a better choice. And neither can Cahill.
“I have a very good relationship with Azpi and that’s important. He’s a top player but his work-rate and character are very strong so he has all the characteristics you would expect from a leader.”
“It was no surprise to me, he will be important but so will everybody else. We have a lot of big characters in the dressing room so just because you have the armband it doesn’t mean you’re the only leader, far from it. We have a lot of leaders in this group and Cesar is one of them. He has grown into the role, he’s younger than me and he’s a great personality at this club.”
-Gary Cahill; source: Chelsea FC
So, Captain EBGC and Vice-captain Dave, reporting for duty.
Of course, as we learned last season with John Terry, being named captain doesn’t guarantee playing time under Antonio Conte, especially with multiple leaders on the pitch and in the dressing room present at any given time. Still, it’s a great honor for both Cahill and Azpilicueta, two of the longest serving, most successful, reliable, and consistent players in the squad.