Wales v England: The captains are announced
It seems odd that the build up talk for the Euro 2012 qualifier between Wales and England has not centred on a Battle of Britain discussion. Such is our modern game, the hot topic of debate this week has been who will captain their respective nations when the two sides meet at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
Starting in the England camp, like him or loathe him, John Terry has been reinstated as England captain. The manner in which Fabio Capello made his decision angered many but regardless of your opinion of the Chelsea defender, Terry's leadership qualities cannot be understated. He has divided opinion both for his tough tackling performances and the revelations concerning his private life but on the pitch, there are few better leaders.
Terry gives his all every time he steps over the white line. A rock at the back, his strength and aggression inspire confidence throughout the team – an essential quality for any defender and indeed a captain. The years are beginning to creep up on Terry, it must be said however. Mistakes have begun to creep into his game over the last couple of seasons and what pace he may have once had is beginning to ebb away. You cannot question his commitment however. Some players are often accused of playing poorly, not giving their all in a particular game. You could probably count on one hand the number of games where this was said of Terry.
Think of Terry Butcher dripping with blood having given his all in the England shirt. This type of player lives on today in John Terry. If he has his squad behind him, Terry will once again prove a fine leader on the pitch. England are in safe hands with the armband in his possession.
Across the River Severn, the Welsh camp only confirmed their captain on Thursday, with Arsenal youngster Aaron Ramsey handed the honour. The position has been vacant since striker Craig Bellamy stepped down earlier this year, and boss Gary Speed has appointed 20-year-old Ramsey in a move that sees the Welsh looking to the future. It is perhaps with this in mind that more experienced candidates such as Ashley Williams and James Collins have been overlooked.
However, the Arsenal midfielder is still a surprise selection. Ramsey has not played for his country since November 2009 after breaking his leg in a clash with Stoke's Ryan Shawcross. Despite this time out and his tender years, he has already amassed 11 caps and notched two goals for his country, proof if any were needed of his talent and ability. While he may not seem the obvious choice, he has a group of experienced competitors around him who will serve him well and ensure he is not isolated in his new found authority.
Speed's recent comments suggest qualifying for the 2014 World Cup is the main aim. If Ramsey isn't ready this weekend, he will be by the time the next qualifying campaign comes around.