Who’s next in line for the Irish captaincy?

Robbie Keane is nothing less than a Republic of Ireland legend. Sixty five goals in 138 caps is truly phenomenal on the international stage. Keano was appointed captain of the national team back in 2006 when Steve Staunton took over the reigns as manager.

He has captained the Irish through thick and thin. Whether it be the heartbreak in Paris following the infamous Thierry Henry handball incident or the joys of securing qualification for Euro 2012, the nation’s first major tournament in ten years, Keane has always been there.

Not to mention the countless important goals he has bagged for the Boys in Green.


However, nowadays the Irish faithful’s opinions of him are split 50-50. Some still think he is an important player that can contribute to the team, while others believe he is long past it and doesn’t have the legs to compete with the best defenders in the world any more.

Some ignorant people question Robbie’s true commitment and effort. It doesn’t matter if Ireland are playing Germany in a qualifying game or sparring San Marino in a friendly, Keane has always gone out of his way to make himself available to represent his beloved country.

Whether he was playing in London with Spurs or plying his trade for LA Galaxy in the States, Robbie always ensures he catches the first plane to Dublin to play for Ireland.

Robbie is the definition of a great leader and a patriotic soul.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and the same goes for Robbie Keane’s captaincy. Keane will be 35 years old in July and it is rumoured that the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign will be his final one.

Of course, he will feature in France if Ireland do manage to qualify for the tournament, but by then he will be a month off turning 36.

The question is, in life after Robbie Keane, who will be captain of the Republic of Ireland national team? Martin O’Neill will be left with a tough decision when Keano does finally call it a day.


Today, we will analyse who O’Neill’s best options are and the chances they have of securing the armband, and you might pick up some ideas to take advantage of betting bonuses. John O’Shea, who at the moment is the next logical choice for captaincy, is not included because he is no spring chicken himself.

The Sunderland centre back will be 34-years-old this year and it is likely that the Euro 2016 campaign will be his last for Ireland also.

Aidan McGeady: 74 caps for Ireland

While current skipper, Robbie Keane, divides opinion amongst many supporters, nobody divides opinion more than Glasgow born winger, Aidan McGeady. Fans have been branding McGeady as “overrated” for years now and there are a lot of arguments that can be made to back that up.

In 74 appearances for his adopted nation, McGeady has only notched five goals which is considered poor for a winger of his so called high standards.


The Scottish born winger may look frightening on the ball for any opposing full back, in reality he is awfully predictable as a winger. A few step overs and an overrun with the ball and lone behold the opposition have possession of the ball.

The reason why McGeady is in a prime position to become the next skipper is his longevity. He first got called up in 2004.

Would he be my pick? No, but it’s up to Martin O’Neill at the end of the day.

Odds of being named next Irish captain: Likely

Shane Long: 51 caps for Ireland

Why not replace Robbie Keane with someone who plays in the same position as him? When Keane does retire, it is likely that the Irish will be looking in Long’s direction when a vital goal is needed.

Shane Long must become Ireland’s out and out goal scorer when Robbie does step aside. The Tipperary man has been playing for Ireland since 2007, but he has only moulded into the role as a fan favourite in recent years during a goal scoring run.


He is a forward with plenty of pace who is well capable of getting in behind defences and giving the opposition headaches. Long has 11 international goals which appears quite average on paper, but he is only 28-years-old so he has plenty of years left to add to that tally. Oh yeah! He also put the ball in the English net.

Would he be my pick? His case would have to be taken under serious consideration.

Odds of being named next Irish captain: Likely

Seamus Coleman: 25 caps for Ireland

Everton right back, Seamus Coleman would certainly be in the mix for the honour. Coleman is one of the most consistent players for both his club and country teams. As a manager, you are nearly always guaranteed a solid performance from Coleman.

As a full back, he is a threat going forward down the right flank and he is quite the exceptional defender too. Some cheeky fans in world football say “he’s too good to be Irish”. Perhaps a little harsh on us as a nation but it just shows how highly people view Coleman.


Last summer, he was linked with a move to Arsenal, while it is rumoured that Bayern Munich are keeping a close eye on the Killybegs born star. Whether these rumours are true or not, you have to be doing a lot of things right to be linked to a large worldwide club such as reigning European champions, Bayern Munich.

In the eyes of the non Irish, Coleman is the biggest star the Boys in Green have. Would he be my pick? He would be in pole position if I had anything to say about it, which I don’t.

Odds of being named next Irish captain: Likely

Glenn Whelan: 61 caps for Ireland

Whelan was first called up to the Republic of Ireland squad in 2008 under Giovanni Trapattoni. The midfielder from Clondalkin, Dublin earned his first cap in a friendly game versus Serbia in Croke Park.

Ever since that game, Whelan has become a regular fixture in the Irish midfield ever since. Glenn played big roles in the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 qualifying campaigns respectively and he was a member of the squad that flopped in the Euro 2012 tournament proper.


At 31-years-old, Whelan continues to be a regular for both, Stoke City in the Premier League and the Irish team itself. The Dubliner has a few years of service left in him it seems.

Would he be my pick? No. Although he is younger than Keane and O’Shea, he would not be a long term option for the role of captain.

Odds of being named next Irish captain: Unlikely

David Forde: 23 caps for Ireland

Due to Shay Given’s longevity in between the posts for Ireland, not many other goalkeepers got as much as a sniff of the number one jersey.

When Given hung up his gloves on the international scene following Euro 2012’s climax, it was game on between Kieran Westwood and Forde to become the successor of the legendary custodian. Westwood appeared to be the winner of the battle at first, but it was the Galwegian keeper who would win the war.


Following an injury to Westwood, Forde was handed an opportunity to impress and he took it by the scruff of the neck and today he remains the first name on the team sheet for Ireland, literally.

Forde was a late comer to international football, earning his first call up in 2011 at 32 years old. It is well known that goalkeepers have longer careers than outfield players and this could give the 35-year-old more reason to stay on in the Irish net for a few more years to add to his increasing cap tally.

Would he be my pick? Considering he plays in the second tier of English football, he is quite the steady goalkeeper. If you attend a game in the Aviva Stadium, you are all but guaranteed to see Forde pull off a few top saves. But seeing as he is a goalkeeper, I’d have to pass on Forde I’m afraid.

Odds of being named next Irish captain: Unlikely

James McCarthy: 24 caps for Ireland

Another Glasgow born Irish player, McCarthy is tipped to be the man to lead Ireland in midfield for years to come. The 24-year-old is a top player for Everton and he narrowly missed out on a big money, £20 million move to Spurs in the recent January transfer window.

Irish supporters love seeing McCarthy’s name in the starting 11. His work ethic for club and country is something that has to be admired. Many feel he would thrive even more in the middle of the park for Ireland if he was playing alongside Wes Hoolahan as opposed to the less flashy, Glenn Whelan.


Nonetheless, McCarthy will be a key component in the middle for the next decade or so.

Would he be my pick? Centre midfield is a great position for your team captain to be playing as he is getting up and down the pitch so instructions are easily exchanged. For a long term option, McCarthy would be well worth taking a look into.

Odds of being named next Irish captain: Likely

Marc Wilson: 20 caps for Ireland

With John O’Shea nearing retirement age, somebody is going to have to take over as commander of the back four. The Stoke City defender is versatile in the fact that he can be deployed as a full back or centre half.

He started out at left back for his country but since the retirement of Richard Dunne, Wilson has been moved into the heart of the defence alongside John O’Shea.


Wilson has been pretty reliable in the middle position and at 27-years-old, he has plenty of experience already in the bag.

Would he be my pick? No, he’s solid but he’s not quite as eye catching as others vying for the role.

Odds of being named next Irish captain: Unlikely

Richard Keogh: 7 caps for Ireland

Okay, he’s not the most spectacular name here but do hear me out. Keogh looks to be slowly becoming a regular in the Irish team. He was heavily featured in recent qualifiers against Germany and Scotland.

At the best of times he is a solid centre back and he doesn’t look out of place on the international scene. He is a tough cookie. It certainly looks as though he is being groomed to slot into John O’Shea’s position in the heart of the back four.


It is also worth noting that Keogh is currently the skipper of a high flying Derby County side.

Would he be my pick? No, there are better options available.

Odds of being named next Irish captain: Complete outsider

James McClean: 25 caps for Ireland

There once was a time when McClean was burning it up for Sunderland in the Premier League. I was one of the people saying “Who is this kid and where did he come from?”. Every person living on the island of Ireland wanted McClean called up to the Irish squad immediately and they got their wish.

Ironically, it was Martin O’Neill who gave him his big break at the Stadium of Light. However, things took a slight turn when the animated Italian, Paulo Di Canio took over at Sunderland.


Di Canio made it clear that the Derry man was not in his plans and McClean was forced to transfer to Wigan Athletic in the Championship in order to experience regular football once more. This put a dent in the confidence of the winger and it looks as if this loss of confidence has spread into his international career also.

He is very hot and cold for Ireland, one game he could be great, the next not so great. He seems to be that kind of player. Lets not mention that he contains a bit of a temper.

Would he be my pick? No, we need our captain to be a consistent performer and leader and preferably not hot headed.

Odds of being named next Irish captain: Complete outsider

With Keane’s days in an Irish jersey running short, there’s no time like the present for Martin O’Neill to start planning ahead. The Republic of Ireland are in desperate need of a player who will always give 110 per cent and is completely devoted to the cause to take over control of the armband.

Some of the players above fit perfectly into that bracket and some don’t as much. Unless a star is born between now and the conclusion of the Euro 2016, it is pretty much a given that nobody not on this list will be named skipper.

Whether you are Irish or not, feel free to comment and let us know who you think should be the next captain of the Republic of Ireland international team.

The Author

James Nolan

I love to play football, coach football and most importantly write about football. I ply my trade for Wicklow Rovers in the Leinster Senior League and coach a team in the same club. I write for my local newspaper, the Wicklow/Bray People where I provide coverage of local soccer, as well as BackPageFootball.Com.

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