Manchester United’s Harry Maguire is certainly not the only famous captain to have the armband taken away from him and can take solace from these other seven famous skippers
Manchester United’s Harry Maguire said he was extremely disappointed after being stripped as captain of the Red Devils, and the painful decision has left the defender on the brink of exiting the club.
Maguire’s reaction to being removed as captain is quite natural, as most of these seven other axed captains must have found out.
Samuel Eto’o — Cameroon
Cameroonian icon and current FA President, Samuel Eto’o Fills, is widely regarded as the greatest-ever player to wear the Indomitable Lions’ jersey, but his international career was far from drama free.
The former Barcelona star was famously dropped as national team captain after a disastrous 2014 World Cup campaign in which Cameroon lost all three group-stage matches and were dumped out of the first round.
After 17 years with the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon senior team, Eto’o saw his removal as captain as the perfect opportunity to leave the national team and retired once the decision was confirmed.
Joey Barton — Queens Park Rangers
Always a controversial character throughout his football career, Joey Barton still managed to earn respect at most clubs he wound up playing for and was named captain of relegation strugglers Queens Park Rangers
The former Manchester City man was a magnet for bans and fines due to his erratic behaviour, but was still named captain of QPR after joining them from Newcastle at the start of the 2011/12 season.
In the final match of that same season, against Manchester City, Barton was sent off for an elbow on Carlos Tevez, kicked Sergio Aguero, and appeared to aim a headbutt in the direction of Vincent Kompany after the red card.
The violent outburst would end up costing Barton the QPR captaincy, as he was stripped while he faced charges from the FA.
Asisat Oshoala — Nigeria
Super Falcons and Barcelona striker Asisat Oshoala took over the captain’s armband of the Nigerian Women’s team from another dethroned skipper, Desire Oparanozie who was exiled from the team following the 2019 World Cup.
Oshoala was in turn removed as captain of the side just over two years later, with varying reports as to why the decision was taken.
Most credible was the rumour that the armband weighed too heavily on Oshoala and affected her performance with the national team, forcing the decision to relieve her of the burden of being captain.
The Barcelona forward found out about the end of her tenure as captain of the Super Falcons on Twitter and was shocked, as she had not received the information herself.
She was replaced by veteran defender Onome Ebi, who remains captain to date.
Granit Xhaka — Arsenal
Ex-Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka finished his stint with the Gunners on a high after an impressive final campaign with the club, which saw him win plaudits from the fans and pundits, but his time in London was not always so rosy.
After being named captain under Unai Emery in 2019 following Laurent Koscielny’s departure, Xhaka lasted only six weeks in the role and was stripped of the title following an altercation with the club’s fans.
They then booed the midfielder as he left the pitch, and the Switzerland international reacted by sarcastically applauding and encouraging the booing before screaming expletives in return and throwing his jersey on the ground in anger.
Emery had little choice but to replace Xhaka as captain after the incident, which drew further criticism from fans.
Xhaka was replaced by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was vice-captain of the team at that point.
Aubameyang’s reign as captain after taking over from Xhaka was markedly longer than the Swiss midfielder’s but also came to an end in disgrace.
The Gabonese striker took over the reins from Xhaka in November 2019 under Emery and remained captain when Mikel Arteta took over from his compatriot.
Aubameyang enjoyed a pleasant start as captain under Arteta and even became the first African captain to lift the FA Cup, but things soon turned sour under Arteta due to several disciplinary problems, leading to the striker’s removal as captain of the team in December 2021 when he returned late from a trip and was reportedly pictured partying.
The relationship between Aubameyang and Arteta deteriorated completely and the Gabonese striker moved to Barcelona in the very next transfer window and was replaced by Martin Odegaard as captain.
William Gallas — Arsenal
Yet another Arsenal player features on the list, with French defender William Gallas’ removal as Arsenal captain perhaps the most dramatic of all three Gunners’ captain removals.
The defender’s performances as captain rarely gave the same impression of charisma and leadership that former Arsenal captains Patrick Vieira and Henry had shown, with Gallas famously breaking down in tears in the centre of the pitch after Arsenal’s loss to Birmingham in 2008.
Later that year, Gallas gave a scathing interview, castigating the culture at the club and blaming the team’s younger players for the on-pitch problems that the Gunners faced.
He was promptly removed as captain and replaced by Cesc Fabregas, who, ironically, was only 21 at the time.
John Terry — England
Chelsea legend John Terry stands in a league of his own as far as being stripped of captaincy goes, as the former Blues defender had the armband taken from him not once, but twice during his career with England.
Terry was named England captain after the 2006 World Cup, and played a crucial role in England’s qualifying for the 2010 edition, but would not get to captain at the finals after being stripped of the captaincy following accusations that he had an affair with Chelsea and England teammate Wayne Bridge’s wife.
He was reinstated as captain in 2011 under Fabio Capello but again lost the honour just a year later after he was accused of racially abusing West Ham’s Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League game.
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