Of the eight captains at this year’s FIFA Confederations Cup, four of them are defenders, five are over the age of 30 and six play their football in Europe. FIFA.com takes a closer look at these inspirational figures who all harbour hopes of lifting the famous trophy come Sunday 30 June.
Brazil: Thiago Silva (28, defender)
The Paris Saint-Germain captain has established himself as one of the most respected defenders in the world, with several seasons of assured performances at the highest level of European football. He rose to prominence following his move to AC Milan in 2009 and his consistency has earned him rave reviews at a club renowned for producing defensive legends. Silva understands the responsibilities that come with being A Seleção skipper. "Wearing the armband makes me remember everything I’ve been through to get here," he said. "You can be sure that I’m going to do my best to do it proud, so that everyone can look to me as an example to follow."
Japan: Makoto Hasebe (29, midfielder)
In the holding midfield role, Hasebe dictates the tempo of Japan's play, and drives his team on from the centre of the park. He plays a similar role for Wolfsburg in Germany, with whom he won the Bundesliga in just his second season in European football. Hasebe made his international debut in 2006 and fulfilled a lifelong dream by captaining his country at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
Mexico: Francisco Javier Rodríguez (33, defender)
One of the few experienced players in a very young Mexican national team and the rock for coach Jose Manuel de la Torre, who made him skipper as soon as it was clear that long-standing skipper Rafa Marquez was not returning to the El Tri fold. A solid player, with a long career in Europe with spells at PSV Eindhoven and Stuttgart, Rodriguez has a strong but silent personality, preferring to lead by example rather than bark orders at his team-mates.
Italy: Gianluigi Buffon (35, goalkeeper)
One of the best keepers in the world for a long time, Buffon inherited the Italian captaincy when long-standing skipper Fabio Cannavaro retired from the national team at the end of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Since then, Buffon has led by example on and off the pitch becoming one of the most respected players in world football. Indeed, Cesare Prandelli recently stated that the Italy No1 is "a fine example for any young player."
Spain: Iker Casillas (32, goalkeeper)
A captain for club and country, Casillas has skippered La Furia Roja to European Championship success in 2008 and 2012 and the country’s first FIFA World Cup success in 2010. Despite being dropped by Jose Mourinho for Real Madrid this season, he remains Vicente del Bosque’s first choice and with the armband. Between the sticks, his confidence and winning attitude extends throughout the whole team. Del Bosque is unrestrained in his praise of his captain, saying "in footballing terms, he’s a living legend.”
Tahiti: Nicolas Vallar (29, defender)
One of the few Tahitians to have played professionally in Europe, Vallar has a strong footballing brain and provides an unruffled presence in the backline. He was named player of the tournament in the 2012 OFC Nations Cup, in which the tiny island nation secured a fairytale ticket to Brazil. Tahiti coach Eddy Etaeta is, unsurprisingly, effusive in his praise for Toa Aito's captain. “He has a great athletic presence and is very aggressive on his man,” Etaeta told FIFA.com. “I can tell you that the forwards who’ve faced him this year have been left feeling rather dazed."
Nigeria: Vincent Enyeama (32, goalkeeper)
Although Joseph Yobo was nominally the Super Eagles’ skipper at the 2013 CAF Africa Cup of Nations, it was Vincent Enyeama who wore the armband for the majority of the time. With Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi not selecting Yobo for the FIFA Confederations Cup, Enyeama will now asume the position on a more regular basis. As Nigeria’s No1 for over a decade, ‘the Cat’ also provides strong support for the Super Eagles’ relatively inexperienced defence. The Maccabi Tel Aviv player certainly leads by example at FIFA tournaments, having won two Man of the Match Awards in three appearances at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Uruguay: Diego Lugano, (32, defender)
The character and personality of this strong central defender are a key part of Uruguay’s defensive structure, however the former Sao Paulo star is also an inspiration for the team off the field. Oscar Tabarez recognised his qualities as soon as he took over the team in 2006, making him La Celeste captain straight away. Since then, Lugano has only been absent from his starting XI through injury or suspension, summing up Uruguay’s spirited qualities.