Retired Premier League referee Mark Halsey has penned an article for You-Are-The-Ref.com in which he reveals who he believes to be the greatest captains he experienced as a top-flight ref.
Two Irishmen made the cut, one fairly obvious, and one not so obvious but having read what Halsey had to say we are delighted to see his inclusion.
You would think that Roy Keane would not be well remembered by Premier League refs, yet the Cork man does make the list at number six, but his former Ireland midfield partner Matty Holland takes pride of place in the top three.
10. Stilyan Petrov
9. Ryan Shawcross
8. Alan Shearer
7. Phillip Neville
6. Roy Keane
5. Tony Adams
4. Patrick Viera
3. Matt Holland
2. John Terry
1. Steven Gerrard
Halsey then explained each decision, and his comments on Holland are glowing to say the least:
Matt Holland, when he was captain of Ipswich. He was a pleasure on the pitch, he wouldn’t say a bad word to you. Never an ounce of problem with him and when you refereed his teams, he would be an absolute gentlemen.
And on Roy Keane:
You knew what you were getting with Roy Keane, he wasn’t difficult because you knew what he was like. You knew he wouldn’t do things behind your back. I just used to say to him: “Oi, behave yourself and no silly challenges” and he used to respect that from you.
He’s the sort of player I used to get on with and I enjoyed refereeing him because he spoke my language and he knew I accepted that as a referee. As long as it’s not directed at you it’s not a problem. It’s when it’s directed at you it becomes a problem.
Granted "he wasn't difficult because you knew what he was like" reads more like "he wasn't difficult because you knew he was difficult", but Halsey respected the Manchester United captain, and it sounds as if that feeling was mutual. Well, at least somewhat mutual.
Ryan Shawcross is bound to raise a few eyebrows, but it's interesting to get the referee's point of view as to what makes a great captain.