Top 10 Youngest Captains In Football History
In football, the captain of a team is a position of great responsibility and honor. The captain is often seen as the leader of the team, responsible for motivating and inspiring their teammates both on and off the pitch.
Captains are typically chosen for their experience, leadership qualities, and ability to make important decisions under pressure. So it’s rare for someone young to be considered captain.
However, Kylian Mbappé made headlines for yet another incredible reason just before the March international break when France manager Didier Deschamps announced that the PSG star would be the national team’s skipper going forward after the retirement of Hugo Lloris, who was the previous skipper.
While the quality of Kylian Mbappé is evident for all to see, many questioned Deschamps’ decision to hand him the captain’s armband, especially with players like Antoine Griezmann, who are older and more experienced than Mbappé are still in the team.
For those who are well grounded in football, this is not the first time a young player under the age of 25 would be the skipper of a side and even one as big and as talented as France.
There are no rules guiding the age of who becomes the captain of any team. Throughout football history, there have been many young players who have taken on the responsibility of leading their teams as captains.
Today, we bring you the top 10 youngest captains in football history, who were youngsters when they became captains of your respective teams.
10. Neymar – (Brazil) 21 Years Old
Neymar Jr is widely considered as one of the best players in the world and is a renowned playmaker. He is also regarded as one of the greatest Brazilian footballers of all time.
In 2009, Neymar played under-17 World Cup, and five years later, he was the skipper of the Brazilian national team for Copa America.
He was just 22 years old, but he already had 40 goals in 58 international appearances for the Brazilian national team.
Furthermore, at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, he was also the skipper of the team until he was injured in the quarterfinals against Colombia.
Many believed that Brazil’s 7-1 loss to Germany in the semi-final was due to his absence.
However, unlike many names on this list, Neymar has not had a trophy-laden career with the Brazilian national team and also renounced his captaincy after the 2016 Olympics.
Since his debut, Neymar has scored 77 goals in 124 matches for Brazil since his debut at the age of 18, which makes him the joint-top goalscorer for his national team alongside Pelé.
9. Cesc Fabregas – (Arsenal) 21 Years Old
Spanish player Cesc Fabregas became Arsenal’s captain in the 2008/2009 season during the period when one could say Arsene Wenger was trying to rebuild the North London club.
It is interesting to note that at that point, the 21-year-old had already spent three seasons at the club, and his talent was obvious.
At just age 17, Fabregas was already making his name as one of the best midfielders of his generation.
He had won several careful about Awards, including the PFA young player of the Year, Arsenal Player of the Year, and being named in the PFA Team of the season.
8. Francesco Totti – (Roma) 21 Years Old
The ultimate one-club man, Francesco Totti, “the eighth King of Rome,” a legend and more, this man was Roma in and out.
Totti was named the captain of Roma in 1998 and held the armband for 18 years through wins, losses, and draws. The days of trophy joys and years of trophy droughts.
He didn’t retire with a bulky trophy cabinet, but he did retire with a lot of admirers, respect, 2 Coppa Italia titles, and a scudetto while also managing to become the second-highest goal scorer in the history of the Serie A.
7. Aaron Ramsey – (Cymru/Wales) 20 Years Old
No, not Arsenal this time, but the North London club had a couple of national teams captain in their squad.
Ramsey was one of those when he was just 20 years old.
This was during the days of Gary Speed as manager of the Welsh national team.
His time as Wales’s captain didn’t last long, and he left the armband for Ashley Williams in 2012.
Anyways, he gets the second bite of the Cherry with Gareth Bale retired from football.
6. Fernando Torres – (Athletico Madrid) 19 Years Old
Current Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone was in the team when former Liverpool striker Fernando Torres was made the captain of the club.
This was two seasons after he helped the club win the second division title in 2001.
In six years with the club, he scored 82 goals in 214 appearances before moving to Liverpool in 2007.
A return to Atletico in 2015 was not like his first time, but at least he remains the manager of the juvenile team of the club after retirement.
5. Jude Bellingham – (Dortmund) 19 Years Old
Three years after joining Borussia Dortmund, Jude Bellingham continues to make outstanding leaps in his short time in professional football.
The 19-year-old became the youngest Bundesliga captain ever towards the end of 2022 when he captained Borussia Dortmund against Cologne in October.
While the captaincy is not his permanent duty yet, he has assumed the role in the UEFA Champions League several times this season, and a testament that the English midfielder has leadership qualities or, maybe, a testing trick to make him stay at the club knowing how many top European club sides want him in their squad.
4. Patrick Vieira – (Arsenal) 19 Years Old
At just 19, he became the captain of French Club Cannes. Two years after debuting for the club, Patrick Viera was a born leader.
He joined Arsenal many years later and led them to the Premier League title unbeaten; if he was a Superhero, he would be Captain Invincible.
He won three premier league titles and four FA cups as he went on to become a club legend with 406 appearances for Arsenal didn’t end his career as he went on to play for AC Milan after leaving the Emirates Stadium.
3. Matthijs De Ligt – (Ajax) 19 Years Old
De Ligt made history in March 2018 when he became the youngest captain in the UEFA Champions League knockout stage when he broke Cesc Fabregas’s record set in 2009 against Roma.
De Ligt took advantage of an injury to then Ajax captain Joel Veltman to take the armband, and he has not looked back nor ridiculed the decision as he’s gone on to become one of the world’s best center backs in the world and currently plays for Bayern Munich.
2. Ruben Neves — (Porto) 18 Years Old
At the age of 18 years and 221 days, on 20 October 2015, Neves broke the record for the youngest player to start as captain in the Champions League.
He led Porto to a 2-0 victory against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the group stage, surpassing Rafael van der Vaart, who previously held the record since 16 September 2003.
He has been seen as a leader from his U17 days when he led the Portuguese U17 national team in 2014 to the UEFA U17 Euros.
Currently, he’s the skipper of Wolves in the Premier League.
1. Mamadou Sakho – (PSG) 17 Years Old
Before becoming the PSG that they are today, the French club had thrown everything in the kitchen sink to be a stable club.
One of the drastic measures was giving seventeen-year-old Mamadou Sakho the captaincy armband at age 17 by the then manager Paul Le Guen.
To boost the questionable leadership of some senior team players, including first-team captain Pauleta and vice-captain Sylvain Armand, Le Guen appointed Sakho as captain for the match.
On October 2007, at the age of 17 years and 8 months, Sakho became the youngest-ever captain of Paris Saint-Germain and also the youngest player to ever captain a side in Ligue 1.
This came in his first game in the Ligue 1 and in the following match against Lyon, he was named captain again.
Although it wasn’t permanent, it prepared him for four years later when he became the permanent captain.
Sakho made over 200 appearances for PSG, winning all four domestic trophies.