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Six times famous footballers were stripped of the captaincy

Manchester United have informed Harry Maguire that he will not be club captain for the forthcoming campaign, with the defender taking to social media to announce the decision.

Maguire’s removal as captain comes after the centre-back struggled for favour last season and the England international is now expected to depart after the clearest indication yet that he does not feature in Erik ten Hag’s plans.

Maguire is not the first high-profile player to be stripped of the armband and we’ve remembered six other stars who were stripped of the captaincy.

Six times famous footballers were stripped of their captaincy.

John Terry (England)

John Terry’s time as captain of his country was marred with controversy as the centre-back was twice stripped of the armband with England.

Terry had been named as England captain following David Beckham’s decision to step down from the role and appeared an ideal fit given his lion-hearted brand of defending and leadership for club side Chelsea.

However, the defender was stripped of the armband in 2010 after an allegation that he had an affair with the ex-girlfriend of Chelsea and England team-mate Wayne Bridge. Rio Ferdinand was named as Terry’s replacement as captain, but the latter was reinstated as England’s skipper a year later.

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Terry lost the armband for a second time in 2012, following allegations of racial abuse directed at QPR defender Anton Ferdinand. The FA removed Terry as captain of the Three Lions and the defender announced his retirement from international football, citing his position had become ‘untenable’ due to the charges against him. The hearing concluded with Terry being found guilty and he was punished with a four-game suspension and £220,000 fine.

Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon)

Samuel Eto’o is considered Cameroon’s greatest ever footballer, but the forward’s career with the national team came to an abrupt end after a row over the captaincy.

Eto’o had led the Indomitable Lions at the 2014 World Cup, but a disappointing campaign saw Cameroon lose all three group games and change made, with Stephane M’Bia named as skipper.

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Eto’o’s removal as captain continued a difficult latter period with the national team, with former Cameroon coach Denis Lavagne having wanted the forward removed as captain in 2012. Eto’o had been suspended for 15 games by the Cameroonian Football Federation after leading a strike over unpaid bonuses.

Following the decision to name M’Bia as captain in 2014, Eto’o called time on an international career that had included a record 56 goals, two African Cup of Nations triumphs and an Olympic Gold medal.

Noughties Nines: Samuel Eto’o – The clinical Cameroonian who conquered Europe

William Gallas (Arsenal)

William Gallas was a surprise choice as Arsenal’s new captain ahead of the 2007/08 campaign, with the centre-back named ahead of Gilberto Silva.

The defender had crossed from London rivals Chelsea the previous summer and had impressed during his debut campaign, but his time as captain proved eventful. Talented but temperamental, he memorably threw a tantrum on the pitch after the title-chasing Gunners squandered a lead to draw at Birmingham in 2007/08.

Having been tasked with leading an inexperienced Arsenal side, Gallas then caused controversy after publicly revealing rifts in the dressing room and criticising the ‘bravery’ of the club’s younger players.

The defender, somewhat predictably, was dropped from the side and removed as captain with Cesc Fabregas named as his replacement. He spent one further season at Arsenal, before leaving on a free transfer to sign for north London rivals Tottenham.

Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan)

Mauro Icardi endured a turbulent relationship with the supporters at Inter Milan, with the forward’s controversial comments in his autobiography turning things sour.

In the book, Icardi recalled a run-in with the Inter Ultras after a defeat to Sassuolo in February 2015, in which the forward had been incensed after the gesture of offering his shirt had been rejected and thrown back at him.

“I took off my shirt and shorts and gave them to a kid,” Icardi wrote.

“It’s a shame that a head Ultra flew over to him, took the shirt from his hands and threw it after me with disgust. In that instant I was beside myself, I would have punched him for that b******’s gesture he’d just pulled.

“So I started to insult him harshly. ‘Piece of s***, you act the big man and all powerful with a little kid to show off in front of the Curva. You should only be ashamed. You should all be ashamed.’ After saying that, I threw the shirt in his face. In that moment, everything kicked off like the world was ending.

“In the changing room, I was applauded like an idol”, even if the club’s directors expressed the fear that fans might wait outside his house for retribution. “But I was clear. I’m ready to face them one by one. Maybe they don’t know that I grew up in one of the South American neighbourhoods with the highest rates of crime and people killed in the street.

“How many of them are there? Fifty? A hundred? Two hundred? OK, record my message and let them hear it. I will bring 100 criminals from Argentina who will kill them on the spot.”

Somehow, Icardi recovered from the revelations and a record of 111 goals in 181 league games repaired some of the damage. However, his relationship with the club’s fans reached another low two years later. Icardi’s wife and agent, Wanda Nara, made several comments about Inter’s management and players on television and the club made the decision to remove the Argentine as captain. He departed at the end of the season to sign for PSG.

Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)

Granit Xhaka’s rollercoaster ride at Arsenal came to an end on a positive note this summer, after appearing all but over following his removal as club captain in 2019.

Xhaka was named as Arsenal captain ahead of the 2019/20 season after the departure of Laurent Koscielny, but lasted little more than a month after a heated confrontation with the club’s fans.

Xhaka acted angrily after being jeered upon his substitution against Crystal Palace, sarcastically gesturing to the crowd and telling the fans to ‘f*** off’ before removing his shirt and heading down the tunnel.


The Switzerland international was stripped of the armband and linked with an exit, but was persuaded to stay after Mikel Arteta’s arrival as manager. He rebuilt his relationship with the Arsenal fans with committed performances on the pitch and departed for Bayer Leverkusen as a popular figure.

His replacement as captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, did not work out as hoped…

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

Arsenal, again.

Aubameyang inherited the armband from Xhaka and things appeared well after a fine start to his time as captain, with the Gabonese forward inspiring the Gunners to FA Cup success under Mikel Arteta.

Aubameyang’s relationship with Arteta began to deteriorate the following season after the forward was dropped for a north London derby clash with Tottenham due to ‘disciplinary reasons’.

In December 2021 he was left out the squad for a fixture with Southampton as a result of another disciplinary breach and Arteta announced that the ‘painful’ decision had been made to remove Aubameyang as captain and ‘defend the interests of the football club.

The forward’s contract with the club was cancelled by mutual consent the following month with Aubameyang departing to sign for Barcelona on a free transfer.

Read – Eight of the best left-wingers in Premier League history

Read Also – Five players Manchester United could sell to raise funds

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