Gary Cahill has been officially appointed as Chelsea club captain ahead of the new season, with Cesar Azpilicueta named vice-captain.
Following the appointment, Cahill spoke to the official Chelsea website about what it means to be handed the armband on a permanent basis, and the added sense of responsibility which comes with such a prestigious honour…
Firstly Gary, congratulations on being named club captain. You must feel very proud…
‘Thank you, yes, it’s definitely a proud moment in my career. I’ve had some good moments up until now and this certainly ranks very highly. To be captain of such a huge club like Chelsea is a great personal achievement.’
How did it feel when you were given the news by Antonio Conte?
‘I felt every emotion. I was delighted, proud, excited and looking forward to it. I was lucky to have the armband for quite a long time last year but obviously John Terry was still club captain and a huge figure here, but I gained a lot of experience from that and hopefully I can continue in the same vein this season.’
Will the fact you captained the team for the majority of last season allow you to settle into the role a bit quicker?
‘Yes, I think that definitely will have helped. I’ve experienced it and it’s almost been a gradual step into it, rather than the shock of going from never having been a captain into the role. It was a nice progression.
‘Obviously there is a bit of extra responsibility, probably off the pitch more than on the pitch now, which will be slightly different for me, but to watch and learn from how John did things when he was here was vital for me.
‘The way I play is the way I play. I want to win and whether I have the armband or not, that won’t change. Hopefully I can just lead by example on the pitch.’
By naming you captain, Antonio has really put his faith in you. As a player, how important is it to be given such a vote of confidence from the manager?
‘It’s fantastic when you see the boss has faith in you and trusts you in terms of your character and personality. Ability is one thing, and you could never play for Chelsea without having ability, but the personality and character of a player is vitally important. For him to show that faith in me means a lot. I will fight for the manager and fight for all the players as long as I’m at this club.’
Cesar Azpilicueta has been named vice-captain, how important will his role be?
‘I have a very good relationship with Azpi and that’s important. He’s a top player but his work-rate and character are very strong so he has all the characteristics you would expect from a leader.
‘It was no surprise to me, he will be important but so will everybody else. We have a lot of big characters in the dressing room so just because you have the armband it doesn’t mean you’re the only leader, far from it. We have a lot of leaders in this group and Cesar is one of them. He has grown into the role, he’s younger than me and he’s a great personality at this club.’
In your opinion, what is the key to being a good captain?
‘Leading by example, doing the right things on and off the pitch, being there for your team-mates if there are any issues and trying to forge a tight-knit group where everybody is willing to fight for each other. It’s about representing the club in the right way.
‘Whether you have the armband or not, you need to want to win at all costs, that’s the way I go about my work. In terms of that, my character won’t change, it just means I have a bit more responsibility.’
You’ve played under a number of different captains throughout your career, which players have you learned most from?
‘Wherever I’ve been I’ve looked at that role and what certain players do. When I was growing up I would always watch the more experienced players to see what they were doing and why they were doing it.
‘There is no better example of that than John and I was lucky to play under his captaincy for a number of years. At every club I’ve been at I’ve taken things from various players and captains, and hopefully it will help me, but there is no better person than John in terms of the level we are at, where we are playing in the Champions League and working alongside such talented team-mates.’
Will you be giving John a call and asking for any advice?
‘Yes, no doubt (laughs). If I get in any sticky situations I’m sure he is one of the first people I will be on the phone to, but I doubt he’ll mind that.’
This club has enjoyed a lot of success with English players as captain. John obviously won countless honours, Dennis Wise lifted domestic and European trophies, as did Ron Harris. What would it mean to follow in the footsteps of those legends and lead us to more glory?
‘It would mean everything. I want to achieve everything I possibly can because it’s a short career. I’ve been fortunate to win quite a few things since I’ve been at the club and I want that to continue. I’d love to get off to a flying start this season in terms of the captaincy and help us win something, that would be ideal and that’s what we’re aiming for.’
You’ve captained your country, and you’re now the official club captain of the Premier League champions. If somebody had told you that was going to happen when you first started out, what would you have said?
‘It’s crazy when I hear that but I feel really proud and honoured. Some players are fortunate to start at a top club and stay there for their whole careers, but it’s very rare to do that. I’ve been on loan and played Championship football, so to climb the ladder and work my way up, I’m now at a level where I feel I’m at the top of my game, and I want to stay there as long as I can.
‘The progression has been phenomenal and when I finish playing I’ll look back on what I’ve achieved, but it’s by no means over. This reign is only just starting, I want to continue achieving success and the only way to do that is by working hard and performing as best I can.’
Next up, we play Inter on Saturday in what is the last game of our tour of Asia. Are you looking forward to leading the team out for the first time since being named club captain?
‘Yes, of course. It’s a great game for us to end the tour with. Our fitness levels are increasing and hopefully we can finish with a victory and get that winning feeling back before we head home. If I’m selected, it will be an amazing feeling to lead the side out.’