In football, the armband is the band worn around a player’s arm above the elbow. It has a certain width and is used as a badge. The armband is worn by the captain of the team and identifies him as such. If it is black, it indicates mourning, and sometimes it is worn in a specific colour as a way of showing solidarity for a cause.
Wearing the team armband is a real honour for the footballer, a privilege granted to him by the rest of his teammates or the coach, as they consider that he has the sporting and human qualities to be their captain, that is to say, they see him as fully qualified to be their leader.
Footballers who exercise the role of captain have to be more than just good players. They will feel the weight of the new responsibilities of their position. The captain of a football team is not just another player, but also serves as a reference for the rest of his teammates and is also the person in charge of assisting the coach. He must always maintain good communication with the other players in his team, treating them with trust so that they also trust him, and giving them good advice.
In some teams, the person wearing the armband even becomes a kind of assistant coach, who is sometimes in charge of the command and organisation of the team, always under the coach’s orders and taking into account both his vision of the game and the situation.
When a football match starts, the team captain is in charge of the pitch draw, which takes place in the centre of the pitch together with the captain of the opposing team and the referees. Only this player usually has the right to communicate with the referee for observations and complaints, and vice versa, the referee will address the captain for any warnings or counterclaims. He is also the person who signs the match report. Outside the football field, he also represents the team against the national team or the club management, as well as at constitutional events.
Some of the best known players in the world of football who have served as captains of their respective teams are the following: Totti, Fernando Torres, Mascherano, Raúl, Maradona, Van Persie, Zanetti, Del Piero, Terry, Cesc Fábregas, Iker Casillas, Puyol, Leo Messi, Sergio Ramos, Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta.
Qualities of the player wearing the armband
A good captain must have a great personality and a series of qualities that make him valuable, admired and loved by his teammates both on and off the pitch. He has to be a role model for them, a true example to follow. The armband bearer becomes the leader, although he must not only support his teammates, but also his coach.
The captain of a football team has to be a very responsible person. This and other qualities come from experience and seniority, so it is not surprising that in many teams this role is carried out by the most senior member of the team. He also has to know how to communicate with his team-mates during the match, to whom he will give instructions during the course of the match, while trying to correct mistakes at the right time. The player wearing the armband will ensure that all decisions and instructions of the referee are carried out. In this way he/she will help the match to run smoothly.
The captain may not be the most technically or tactically gifted player in the team, but he will know how and when to push his team-mates through difficulties during the match and encourage them to play better football. This player has to make the whole team aware of the rules of football, take responsibility for their behaviour and defend it against the players of the opposing team.
During the course of a match, this player must be able to keep track of time in order to know how much time is left and how to act depending on the result. He must play every match as if it were the most important match, showing his spirit at all times and playing every ball with will and intelligence.
A captain will always be captain: in the dressing room, in talks, on trips, in training, in warm-ups, in victories and defeats, he must be the first person available to serve his team. The captain will arrive first, leave last and want to stay a little longer if a team-mate needs him, whether to talk or to solve a problem, he will always be ready to lend a helping hand.
If one of his teammates is injured or ill, the armband bearer has to take care of him by calling him, visiting him and keeping an eye on what he needs. Another of the qualities of a good captain should be humility, as well as always being ready to support his teammates.
This player belongs to each and every member of the squad, i.e. he does not go it alone or belong to a particular group in his team. This means being with the team-mates he likes as well as with the team-mates he dislikes. He also has to try to make new players feel integrated into the team, but he must not neglect the older players either.
Therefore, all players in the team must feel supported, respected and considered by their captain, who will always stand up for them. Even before a match starts, this player has to create a good atmosphere in the dressing room. This is a moment that belongs only to the captain and the rest of the group, so if he creates a climate of readiness and concentration, he will get them to play the game with a positive attitude. In short, he will encourage all his team-mates one by one in order to give them a good feeling so that they enjoy themselves and try to do well in the match.
The captain can become a fundamental figure in maintaining good spirits, discipline and concentration in a football team, apart from the coach of course. In many cases, this player is an extension of the team before, during and after each match, so there is no doubt that, more than a privilege, taking on this role is an enormous responsibility.