World Cup winner dismisses Southgate’s captain idea

Date published: Monday 20th March 2017 2:39

Sir Geoff Hurst believes England lack a stand-out leader and has dismissed Gareth Southgate’s suggestion that the captaincy could be shared.

Three Lions manager Southgate has sparked fresh debate about the role after omitting Wayne Rooney from his latest squad and saying that the current skipper is no longer guaranteed to be selected.

Although World Cup winner Hurst thinks leaving Rooney out for the forthcoming games against Germany and Lithuania is the right decision, he strongly opposes Southgate’s idea of picking a captain on a game-by-game basis.

“We need a regular leader – and I use the word leader, as opposed to captain,” the 75-year-old told Press Association Sport.

“I go back to ’96 when we nearly won the European Championships, we had five or six club leaders in that team – (Alan) Shearer, (Stuart) Pearce at left-back, Tony Adams. All real strong leaders in their own clubs, playing for the national side and I think that was arguably a team that should have won the European Championships.

“I don’t think there are any stand-out players in the squad at the moment.

“Somebody’s got to have it. Gareth Southgate’s talking about a number of captains, I certainly don’t agree with saying we should be changing captains, I don’t agree with that at all.

“You’ve got to make a captain who’s going to be a regular player and go from there.”

Manchester United forward Rooney has endured a frustrating campaign at Old Trafford, becoming a bit-part player and starting just one Premier League game in 2017.

Ex-West Ham striker Hurst, who managed an impressive 24 goals in his 49 England caps, including a memorable hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup final, believes Southgate would have been “weak” had he selected Rooney.

“I go back to Alf Ramsey’s day, he had two criteria (for selection) which were you had to be playing for your club – it didn’t matter how you played for your club, he wasn’t bothered about your form as long as your performed for Alf Ramsey’s team – and secondly, you didn’t have to be arguing over a contract,” Hurst said.

“I think those criteria, certainly the first one, are as important today.

“I think it would’ve been a very poor decision, a weak decision had he picked Wayne Rooney.”

England travel to Dortmund to take on Germany on Wednesday evening before returning to Wembley for their World Cup qualifier with Lithuania on Sunday.

Former Under-21 boss Southgate sprung a few surprises ahead of the two games, including calling up uncapped trio Michael Keane, Nathan Redmond and James Ward-Prowse, along with veteran striker Jermain Defoe.

Hurst thinks 34-year-old Defoe merits another chance at international level due to the fine form which has seen him score 14 league goals for struggling Sunderland.

“Quite simply, his goalscoring record is fantastic,” Hurst said.

“You don’t concern yourself about age, it’s about performance and he’s performing well.

“If you’re in a side that’s playing well and creating loads of chances, you’re going to score goals. But if you’re doing it in a side that’s struggling, and have been for some time, it’s encouraging and he thoroughly deserves his inclusion.”

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