Holland and Keane make top 10 captains list

Matt Holland has made Mark Halsey's list of top 10 Premier League captains

Matt Holland has made Mark Halsey's list of top 10 Premier League captains - Credit: Jason Cairnduff

Former Ipswich Town captain Matt Holland and manager Roy Keane have both made a list of the top 10 Premier League captains, compiled by respected referee Mark Halsey.

Mark Halsey has compiled a list of his top 10 Premier League captains

Mark Halsey has compiled a list of his top 10 Premier League captains

The former Ipswich duo make Halsey’s list, which also includes Steven Gerrard, John Terry and Patrick Viera, with Holland coming in third and Keane sixth.

“It’s those first impressions you make on the captains because players know the referees, players know what they can and can’t get away with, players know a weak referee,” said Halsey, who compiled the list for www.you-are-the-ref.com.

Holland captained the Blues for much of his time at Portman Road, between 1997 and 2003, leading the club to promotion to the Premier League before guiding them to a fifth placed finish in their first season in the top flight. Manchester United legend Keane was manager between April 2009 and January 2011.

1- Steven Gerrard

Number one for me is Steven Gerrard. Great captain. We always had good respect for one another. Good banter on the field of play, shop floor banter. When he’s not happy with your decisions he’ll let you know but at the same time he’d let you know if he thought you were doing well.


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I remember a couple of incidences – there was this one game where I was refereeing Norwich versus Liverpool. Suarez got a wonderful hat-trick and I blew the whistle and was like ‘cor, that wasn’t a bad half for you.’ Gerrard replied: ‘it’s a change for you to have a decent game’ and I said: ‘that makes two of us.’ He had a little chuckle.

I always remember refereeing Liverpool versus Manchester United where I awarded a late penalty to United and Gerrard said ‘you’re having an absolute nightmare today, absolute nightmare.’ I responded ‘it’s a penalty Steven, I’m sorry.’ He responded saying ‘don’t blame me for your lacklustre performance’ and that was that, but I must have his respect because he asked me to referee his testimonial. I remember him writing in his book that he liked me as a referee because I had good banter and it helps when you have that relationship with the captains.

Matt Holland

Matt Holland

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2- John Terry

I remember sending him off once playing for Chelsea against Man City, he came into my dressing room, sat next to me and we spoke about the sending off. He didn’t agree with it but I explained myself and we left on good terms. I’ve always had respect for John.

It’s funny because every time he came into my dressing room I used to give him a little slap and he’d go ‘why do you always do that to me?’ I said ‘I dunno it’s just habit’ and he goes “yeah, you always slap me round the face’ and just smiled. It’s those first impressions you make on the captains because players know the referees, players know what they can and can’t get away with, players know a weak referee, captains know a weak referee – the way they speak to you when you bring in the team sheet and shake their hand.

3- Matt Holland

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.

4- Patrick Vieira

He was fantastic! Great chat on the field of play. I always remember him having a go at me and I told him ‘why don’t you **** off and leave me to it?’ Vieira said ‘you’re funny, you make me laugh, I like you as a referee.’

Roy Keane has made the list

Roy Keane has made the list - Credit: PA

That sort of banter goes well with the captains and goes to show you’re human. With that level of shop floor language you use and all the referees use it, you have to.

5- Tony Adams

I always got on well with Tony when he was captain. He could be a peacemaker but would also come up to you and ask one or two things. Obviously he didn’t always agree but he was a gentlemen on the pitch. If they give it, you give it as good as you got and give it back to them!

Even after he played when he was assistant manager at Portsmouth in the Premier League, he was always polite and if he had a problem he would always come up and speak to you and ask you about certain things. That is what you want with captains, you don’t want captains who lose their heads and they need to be calm.

6- 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.

Alan Shearer with Mark Halsey

Alan Shearer with Mark Halsey - Credit: PA

7- Philip Neville

Phil was superb at Everton, he was decent to talk to once he left Manchester United and it’s the same with Gary. It was as if they weren’t allowed to speak to us or communicate with us at United, but once Phil went to Everton he was totally different. He was approachable, you could talk to him, no problem at all.

I know he respected me and I never had a problem with Gary. I speak to him a lot now, very approachable and a very likeable person but he was the same. He was the captain but he wouldn’t talk to you, he didn’t want to have a conversation with you. I don’t know whether it was installed to him via the club, or whether Sir Alex Ferguson said don’t get involved with referees, but I don’t know why – we’re all human.

8- Alan Shearer

When Alan Shearer was captain of Newcastle he would always try and get stuff off you, to help his team. He would be constantly at you trying to get decisions for his team. He got into your mind-set and as a referee you’ve got to be mentally strong and mentally tough.

He would get at you to make you give that free kick that never was, or make you give them the 50/50s and perhaps sometimes he would try and be nice so you’d give them to him. As I say players knew what they got from me when I crossed that line, they knew I wasn’t weak. They knew I would give players a chance but as soon as they crossed that line they knew I would hammer them.

Steven Gerrard, Liverpool

Steven Gerrard, Liverpool - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

9- Ryan Shawcross

He was hard but fair. One thing about Ryan is that if he was to do something he wouldn’t do it behind your back, and I always remember him getting a headbutt from Fellaini in a Stoke vs Everton game and he came up to me and said: “Mark, he’s just headbutted me” and I said: ‘listen, I haven’t seen it but if he has, then the cameras will pick it up and he will get retrospective action.” He did, and he got a three-match ban.

We have Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling, John Stones and Phil Jones, but I think we do seem to be struggling in that area and I think if he has a good season, I don’t see why he can’t get back into Roy Hodgson’s England squad. He is an excellent leader, a tough player and that’s what you want, and he is a player who can look after himself. You want to see aggression in your centre half, same as you do in your centre forward, but he controls that aggression, he gives 110%.

10- Stiliyan Petrov

At Aston Villa he was great but he was all over you. We got on well together but he was always at you, trying to help you or when he felt like things went against him, he was always the first player to come to you.

“Hey Mark, I’m trying to talk to you, what was this for, what was that for” but he was a good lad to deal with. On the whole there was never a nasty captain to be honest.

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