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England's World Cup Finals

Captains

 
 

Captains at World Cup Final Tournaments 1950 - 2010 by Tournament

19500
Billy Wright
3 matches against
Chile, USA & Spain

1954

Billy Wright

3 matches against
Belgium, Switzerland & Uruguay

1958
Billy Wright
4 matches against
USSR (2), Brazil & Austria
1962
Johnny Haynes
4 matches against Hungary, Argentina, Bulgaria & Brazil
1966
Bobby Moore
6 matches against Uruguay, Mexico, France, Argentina, Portugal & West Germany

1970

Bobby Moore

4 matches against Romania, Brazil, Czechoslovakia & West Germany

1982
Mick Mills
5 matches against France, Czechoslovakia, Kuwait, West Germany & Spain
1986
Bryan Robson
2 matches against Portugal & Morocco
Peter Shilton
3 matches against Poland, Paraguay & Argentina
1990
Bryan Robson
2 matches against Republic of Ireland & Netherlands
Peter Shilton
2 matches against Egypt & Italy
Terry Butcher
3 matches against Belgium, Cameroon & West Germany

1998

Alan Shearer

4 matches against Tunisia, Romania, Colombia & Argentina

2002
David Beckham
5 matches against Sweden, Argentina, Nigeria, Denmark & Brazil
2006
David Beckham
5 matches against Paraguay, Trinidad & Tobago, Sweden, Ecuador & Portugal
2010
Steven Gerrard
4 matches against USA, Algeria, Slovenia & Germany

2014

 

 

2018
 
 
 
2022
 
 
 
 

Captains at World Cup Final Tournaments 1950 - 2010 by Name

David Beckham
2002 (5), 2006 (5)
2002: Sweden, Argentina, Nigeria, Denmark & Brazil
2006: Paraguay, Trinidad & Tobago, Sweden, Ecuador & Portugal

Terry Butcher

1990 (3)

Belgium, Cameroon & West Germany

Steven Gerrard
2010 (4)
USA, Algeria, Slovenia & Germany
Johnny Haynes
1962 (4)
Hungary, Argentina, Bulgaria & Brazil
Mick Mills
1982 (5)
France, Czechoslovakia, Kuwait, West Germany & Spain

Bobby Moore

1966 (6), 1970 (4)

1966: Uruguay, Mexico, France, Argentina, Portugal & West Germany
1970: Romania, Brazil, Czechoslovakia & West Germany
Bryan Robson
1986 (2), 1990 (2)
1986: Portugal & Morocco
1990: Republic of Ireland & Netherlands
Alan Shearer
1998 (4)
Tunisia, Romania, Colombia & Argentina
Peter Shilton
1986 (3), 1990 (2)
1986: Poland, Paraguay & Argentina
1990: Egypt & Italy
Billy Wright
1950 (3), 1954 (3), 1958 (4)
1950: Chile, USA & Spain
1954: Belgium, Switzerland & Uruguay
1958: USSR (2), Brazil & Austria

 

Captains at World Cup Final Tournaments 1950 - 2010 by Number

Captain Tournaments Matches
Billy Wright 1950, 1954, 1958 10
Bobby Moore 1966, 1970
David Beckham 2002, 2006
Mick Mills 1982 5
Peter Shilton 1986, 1990
Johnny Haynes 1962 4
Bryan Robson 1986, 1990
Alan Shearer 1998
Steven Gerrard 2010
Terry Butcher 1990 3

Notes

Only ten men have led England in World Cup final tournament play.  Four of these--Mick Mills, Peter Shilton, Terry Butcher and Steven Gerrard--were standby captains serving in the absence of a preferred but injured captain.

Injuries, the fortuities of time and qualification failures have prevented some of England's most illustrious captains from wearing the armband at the World Cup finals or at least limited their appearances as captain on the great stage.

Throughout the six tournaments following their belated first entry into World Cup competition, England were led by their first-choice captains--Billy Wright in 1950, 1954 and 1958, Johnny Haynes in 1962 and Bobby Moore in 1966 and 1970.  But the story since then has been very different.

England failed to qualify for the next two tournaments, in 1974 and 1978.  Manager Alf Ramsey would have stayed on and might well have continued his faith in Moore had England qualified for World Cup 1974, although he had given the armband to Martin Peters on occasion in Moore's absence.  Either Kevin Keegan or Emlyn Hughes probably would have led England at World Cup 1978 had qualification been secured.  Neither ever led an England team at the World Cup.

Keegan was manager Ron Greenwood's preferred captain and would have led England at World Cup 1982 in Spain had he been fit, but injury kept him out for all but a late substitute appearance in England's last match at that tournament.  Defender Mick Mills filled in as captain, and Keegan's international career ended on a rather sad note.  Because of England's disastrous qualification record during the 1970's, he had only 26 minutes of playing time in World Cup finals.

Although Bryan Robson captained England 63 times--second only to Billy Wright and Bobby Moore's 90--he led the side at the World Cup finals in only four matches.  He was manager Bobby Robson's preference for the captaincy at World Cups 1986 and 1990, but injury forced his exit at the early stages of both tournaments.  In Mexico in 1986, a long-standing shoulder injury, aggravated in a warm-up match against Mexico in Los Angeles, forced him from the pitch during the first half of the second group match against Morocco, and he did not play in the tournament again although he remained with the squad.  His Manchester United teammate, Ray Wilkins, took over the captain's armband in the Morocco match, but shortly drew a red card for a second cautionable offence and had to yield it to Peter Shilton, who became the third England player to wear the armband in the match.  Wilkins, suspended for the next two matches, did not return for the rest of the tournament, and it was Shilton who went on to captain England in their remarkable recovery against Poland and Paraguay and their loss to Argentina in one of the most controversial matches in World Cup history.

Injury again forced Robson's withdrawal in the second group match at World Cup 1990 in Italy.  After lasting the full 90 minutes in the first match against the Republic of Ireland,  Robson, already playing with a pain-killing injection for an injured toe, strained his Achilles tendon and had to be taken off after 65 minutes of the second match against Holland.  He had to sit out the third match against Egypt, and, despite the efforts of a faith healer he had flown out to treat him, he then flew home for surgery.  Peter Shilton and Terry Butcher both filled in as captain.  Shilton was captain for two matches in which Butcher did not play, the third group match against Egypt and the third-place match against Italy at the end of the tournament.  Butcher took over the captaincy in the big matches against Belgium, Cameroon and Germany.

Gary Lineker's international career had already reached its last two years when he became manager Graham Taylor's first-choice captain in the early 1990's as Robson's England career waned, and he never led the team at the World Cup finals.  Failure to qualify for the 1994 tournament prevented Lineker's successor, David Platt, from captaining a World Cup side.  By the next World Cup finals in 1998, Platt's international career had ended.

At World Cup 1998 in France, however, England were led throughout the tournament by manager Glenn Hoddle's preferred captain, Alan Shearer. 

David Beckham, coach Sven-Göran Eriksson's choice as team leader, managed to captain the side in England's five matches at World Cup 2002 although a broken foot had put his fitness for the tournament in doubt until the last minute and it was quite apparent throughout the tournament that he had not fully recovered.  He was taken off in the 63rd minute of the opening match against Sweden, his first game in more than two months, with Michael Owen, who had captained England in warm-up matches during Beckham's absence, taking over the armband.  But he lasted the duration in England's four remaining matches.  Beckham continued with the armband for another five Final's matches at the 2006 tournament.  Allowing him to captain as many as ten matches, ranking him alongside Bobby Moore and Billy Wright.

Fabio Capello's first attempt at the World stage ended disastrously.  In 2010, he took his captain Rio Ferdinand with him to South Africa, only for Ferdinand to be injured in a freak training ground accident.  The vice-Captain Steven Gerrard took over the armband responsibilities for the four matches England played.

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PY/CG