27 Aug 2013
In - Football

Here's why Mirror football writer John Cross  thinks Mick Mills is the greatest captain in the history of teh 72 Football League clubs…

1. Leadership
Mills was the experienced father figure in a young Ipswich side when he was captain at Portman Road. He was manager Bobby Robson's mouthpiece on the pitch as he ensured, as captain, that all of Ipswich's emerging young players never gave up. Mills is a prime example of being a terrific leader - vocal, determined and a player of great passion and desire, which set a great example to his team-mates.

2. Never-say-die spirit
Even when then-Ipswich boss Bobby Ferguson surprisingly allowed Mick Mills to leave at the grand old age of 33, he showed the terrific never-say-die spirit which typifies his captaincy. Mills had a bit of the "I'll show you" about him as he went on to join Southampton for three years, playing more than 100 games. Even when written off, he was determined to carry on playing for the love of the game. He is remembered fondly at both Ipswich and Southampton.

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3. Versatility
Mills occupied both left- and right-back slots for club and country. Interestingly, he switched flanks far more often for his country than his club, battling it out with Kenny Sansom on the left for England while Phil Neal and Trevor Cherry also got picked ahead of him. But showing true determination, Mills carried on and was happy to be part of the squad, whereas younger players may choose to retire in these days of egotistical stars. He went on to win 42 caps and was a reliable and dependable servant. As a result, he led his country at the 1982 World Cup.

4. Coaching
Many good captains have a passion and an eye for how the game should be played and therefore go on to become coaches or managers. After leaving Southampton, Mills went on to be player/manager of Stoke. They were difficult times but he was in charge for four years, during which time Mills went from being player/manager to just manager. It's a difficult switch for any full-bloodied player, but his passion for the game as captain was to remain when in the dugout. Every good captain can offer something to his team-mates on the pitch and good captains can often take those qualities into management.

5. Attitude
Humble and quietly spoken, Mills had a terrific attitude. There was no ego, just a desire to win. He was also well-behaved on and off the pitch. Instantly recognisable thanks to his famous moustache, Mills was a cornerstone of Bobby Robson's successful Ipswich team. They won the FA Cup, Uefa Cup and only finished outside of the top six once in 10 seasons. It is a remarkable record, and one that owed much to Mills and his leadership as one of English football's great captains. Any player could look to him and see him fierce in the tackle, ambitious on the ball and always ready to help his team-mates. A perfect captain.

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