Who Has Captained Liverpool the Most Times?

- - Players

Boots of Footballer with Red SocksAt the age of 32, the jury is out on exactly how many games Virgil van Dijk will be Liverpool captain for.

The Dutch defender will replace Jordan Henderson as skipper for the 2023/24 season, so there’s a chance that – combining this term and next – Van Dijk could get close to 80 games as Liverpool captain.

That would just about scrape him into the top 25 players to have captained Liverpool the most….although it’s nigh-on impossible that Van Dijk will catch the man at the top of that very list.

So here’s a look at the players that have captained Liverpool more times than anybody else:

Liverpool Captains Chart

#5 – Jordan Henderson (268 Games)

It’s somewhat ironic that the man Van Dijk is replacing as captain has already booked his spot as one of Liverpool’s most prolific skippers.

Henderson was installed as captain in 2015 by Brendan Rodgers, and his tenure would last throughout the Irishman’s spell in charge and into the Jurgen Klopp years.

Just 25 at the time and facing the daunting task of replacing Steven Gerrard in the armband, Hendo’s time as captain didn’t always go swimmingly. But in hoisting the Premier League and Champions League trophies skyward – as well as four others – his status as one of the most successful leaders of the Reds in the modern era is assured.

It’s just a shame that the Saudi money spoke in louder volumes than adding to his legacy on Merseyside….

#4 – Donald McKinlay (293 Games)

One of Liverpool’s first periods of dominance of English football came in the 1920s – with captain Donald McKinlay at the heart of things.

Known as an unassuming Scot with a enviable work rate and a rocket of a left foot, McKinlay captained the Reds in nearly 300 games and twice hoisted what was then known as the First Division trophy as Liverpool romped to the title in 1922 and 1923.

Although footage of that era is, unsurprisingly, scarce, those that have been interviewed about McKinlay have described him as a hard but fair captain who wasn’t afraid to get stuck in, either.

#3 – Emlyn Hughes (335 Games)

Anyone that saw Emlyn Hughes on A Question of Sport knew instantly what sort of a football captain he would have been.

A naturally likable individual, Hughes made 665 appearances in a Liverpool shirt and was captain for roughly half of them – a span that saw the Reds win three First Division titles, two European Cups and an FA Cup….the iconic Bill Shankly years. Shankly affectionately described Hughes as a ‘bloody big daft donkey’, but was also quick to shower praise on a player who was an essential part of Liverpool’s success in the 1970s.

Hughes would also go on to captain England and a team on the popular BBC sports quiz show already mentioned, where his quick wit, high pitched voice and occasional foolhardiness – he once mistook Princess Anne for the jockey John Reid during the picture round – endeared him to the nation.

#2 – Ron Yeats (416 Games)

Just prior to Hughes came Ron Yeats, a strapping Scottish centre back signed by Shankly in 1961.

The legendary manager would describe the signing of Yeats as a ‘turning point’ in Liverpool’s fortunes, immediately installing the defender as captain upon his arrival at Anfield.

He helped the Reds secure promotion from the old Second Division, before transitioning to the top-flight with ease – Liverpool would win two First Division titles and an FA Cup with Yeats in charge, while losing in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1966.

Yeats played in 454 games for Liverpool, captaining the team in 416 of them – a truly remarkable achievement.

#1 – Steven Gerrard (472 Games)

Nobody has captained Liverpool FC more times than Steven Gerrard.

The midfield maestro took over the captaincy in October 2003 – he was aged just 23 at the time, and it was a burden he would carry for over a decade….at times single-handedly dragging the club forward.

You could argue that his immense talent was not rewarded with the silverware it deserved – he perhaps played in the wrong era of Liverpool history for that, although those that witnessed the Champions League win of 2005 will never forget that glorious night in Istanbul.

Certainly one of the best players in Liverpool’s history, Gerrard is also the club’s greatest ever captain too.

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