From Manuel Neuer to Marco Reus, Wataru Endo and Lars Stindl, we run through the men wearing captain's armbands in 2022/23.
bundesliga.com introduces the captain who will be looking to lead their sides to glory in 2022/23…
Legendary Bayern and Germany goalkeeper Neuer enters his 12th year at the club, having won everything there is to since moving to Munich from Schalke in 2011. He has reimagined his position during that time, setting the bar for the rest of the Keepers' Union to reach up to. Neuer took the armband from Philipp Lahm upon the latter's retirement in July 2017 and has continued the fine work of his predecessor by leading Bayern to a 10th straight Bundesliga title last term - and fifth in a row under Neuer's leadership. One of Julian Nagelsmann's first acts as coach last year was to confirm Neuer would continue in the role, describing the now 36-year-old as "an outstanding captain," and the Bayern boss - some 10 months Neuer's junior - will again lean heavily on his skipper as the reigning champions look for success both home and abroad in 2022/23.
Watch: Manuel Neuer: Rewriting the history books
It's hard to imagine anyone other than Reus lining up against Neuer in the tunnel for Der Klassiker, and the pair will resume their domestic rivalry for a fifth season when the they go head-to-head on Matchday 9. With Edin Terzic back in the dugout - this time on a permanent basis - it means both coach and captain are Dortmund natives, which must be a wonderful sight for the Yellow Wall. The BVB power couple lifted the 2020/21 DFB Cup together and, as long as Dortmund extend Reus' contract beyond the end of the campaign, the 33-year-old is targeting more success at his hometown club both this season and beyond. "I still have many good years left in the tank," he told the BVB website ahead of the new campaign. "I’m perfectly healthy."
Hradecky is one of three goalkeepers that captain Bundesliga sides, having been given the honour by Gerardo Seoane ahead of the 2021/22 season. "Lukas is not only an outstanding goalkeeper but also a complete professional who has a very conscientious approach to his game," said Seoane at the time. "On top of that, he has a very positive presence, communicates well and is happy to accept responsibility." And Leverkusen enjoyed a successful first season with Hradecky wearing the armband as Die Werkself earned a return to the UEFA Champions League courtesy of their third-place finish in the Bundesliga. Hradecky will now get the opportunity to lead his side out to the famous music of Europe's premier club competition as he enters a fifth campaign at the club that he says "has become very close to my heart".
Gulacsi is the third and final goalie that bears the added responsibility of being their team's captain and you can see why he was promoted to the role following Marcel Sabitzer's departure to Bayern last September. Only Yussuf Poulsen (328) has played more games for the club than Gulacsi (273) and the Hungarian has proven to be a leader both on and off the pitch. Not only has he kept 66 clean sheets in Germany's top-flight, Gulacsi has also supported LGBTQ+ rights in his homeland and he made headlines in 2020 by donating his national team bonus to a young Hungarian child named Zsombor, who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and was in need of one of the most expensive drugs in the world to aid his treatment. A natural leader, Gulacsi said last year: "A good captain always leads by example".
Since joining the club in 2014, Trimmel has elevated himself to legendary status at Union and he even wore the armband during his first season with the team, albeit sporadically. They were in Bundesliga 2 back then and Die Eisernen clearly saw the leaderships qualities of their right-back early on, but it wasn't until 2018 that he took the captaincy full-time. His impact was immediate, with Trimmel leading the team to the Bundesliga for the first time in their history. Both captain and club haven't looked back since, establishing themselves as serious top-flight players and even earning back-to-back European campaigns in 2021/22 and 2022/23. UEFA Europa League football awaits this term and Union will again be hoping that their set-piece extraordinaire of a skipper can set their course for another excellent season.
Watch: Trimmel "proud" of remarkable Union journey
Freiburg are a club well acquainted with the term 'stalwart'. Head coach Christian Streich celebrated a decade at the helm last season as Freiburg come within three points of a historic Champions League qualification and were just 14 minutes away from DFB Cup glory until Leipzig's late show eventually saw off the Black Forest club on penalties in the final. Like Streich, Günter is part of the Freiburg furniture and the 29-year-old is now a full Germany international with six caps for his country and 332 first-team appearances for his local team since joining them in 2006. He was voted by his peers to be their captain for a fourth successive season, with Günter saying after his reappointment: "I know how much this vote means, because it has come directly from my teammates. I would like to continue giving the team a voice both internally and externally, and above all, stand alongside our young players and offer them advice and support."
Hector (10 years) sits alongside Günter, Reus (both 10), and Neuer (11) as the four 2022/23 Bundesliga captains to have spent a decade at their current clubs and the Billy Goats skipper has seen plenty during his time in Cologne. He was yet to make his debut when they were relegated from the top tier in 2012 but played a key role in their 2013/14 promotion from the second division. Hector captained the club for the majority of the second half of the 2017/18 campaign, but ultimately endured relegation that season. He stayed put and was given the armband full-time the following year as Cologne bounced back at the first attempt and, having narrowly survived the drop in 2020/21, Hector was instrumental as Steffen Baumgart's men earned a spot in this year's UEFA Europa Conference League play-offs by finishing seventh last year. Unsurprisingly, Baumgart opted for Hector to lead his team again, saying: "There was no reason for me to change."
Watch: Three of Hector's best Bundesliga goals
With Moussa Niakhate departing the 05ers' ranks this summer, there was a captaincy void to fill. And it's Widmer, who joined Mainz just 12 months ago, that has been given the responsibility after an impressive rookie season last term. Widmer contributed four goals and five assists to the Mainz cause as Bo Svensson's team flirted with Europe before ending 2021/22 in eighth place. That was enough to convince Svensson that Widmer should take up the baton from Niakhate. "He has only been at the club a year but he has lots of experience," said Svensson of his 31-cap Switzerland international. "He always performs on the pitch and also has a good head off the pitch to deal with the responsibility of being captain."
Watch: Widmer scored one and set up another in 4-0 win over Gladbach last season
A spate of injuries denied Hübner a full campaign in 2021/22, with the 33-year-old centre-back managing to lead his team out on just five occasions in the Bundesliga and once in the DFB Cup. He did, however, manage to earn a new contract at the club in February and scored in his 100th appearance that same week. Oliver Baumann deputised for the majority, with Andrej Kramaric and Florian Grillitsch also taking on the role in Hübner's absence. Hübner was appointed captain in 2019 and, now back fit ahead of the new season, he retained the armband for Hoffenheim's 2022/23 efforts. Grillitsch may be gone, but Baumann and Kramaric also remain vice-captains, while the TSG team council is completed by Christoph Baumgartner and Grischa Prömel. Those five will be essential resources for new coach Andre Breitenreiter to rely upon.
Stindl, who previously skippered Hannover before moving to Gladbach in 2015, was first made captain by then coach Andre Schubert on the eve of the 2016/17 season. "Lars is a very communicative player, he addresses problems openly," Schubert explained at the time. "He has a lot of respect within the team and in the community, both as a player and as a person." New coach Daniel Farke will be the sixth man to trust Stindl with the captaincy since and the Foals' 33-year-old talisman has already been left impressed with his new boss. "I think the atmosphere in the team and also around the club, among the fans, is very good, and I think that given the change of coach you can definitely speak of a kind of new beginning," he told RND+ in pre-season. "I think Farke is already an asset to Borussia."
Rode was given the Eintracht captaincy by Oliver Glasner ahead of the 2021/22 season, describing his midfielder as "a true Hessian with great experience and personality". The pair went on to make history as they led Die Adler to Europa League success and they now set their sights on improving their domestic form, while challenging at Europe's top table with a Champions League campaign ahead of them. Injuries may have restricted Rode to just 17 Bundesliga appearances - 10 of which were starts - last term, but his influence in the latter stages of the Europa League were significant. He started and captained the side to their historic 3-2 victory over Barcelona in the quarter-final second-leg, both wins against West Ham in the semis and the penalty glory of the final, where he even suffered a bad gash to his head but soldiered on. Makoto Hasebe and Kevin Trapp both stepped in for Rode during his injury absences and will again serve as capable understudies.
Koen Casteels was installed as the Wolves skipper by previous coach Mark van Bommel for the 2021/22 off-season, but new gaffer Niko Kovac has seen it fit to make a change ahead of the new term by promoting stalwart Arnold from vice-captain to captain. You can see why; Arnold is the club's youngest-ever top-flight player, is entering his 12th campaign for the Wolves and is just five outings away from becoming their highest appearance-maker. Arnold has been an ever present for Wolfsburg in recent years and featured in all 41 of their games in all competitions in 2021/22, while has has missed just six Bundesliga matches in the past four seasons. Casteels has been named as one of two vice-captains, alongside Maxence Lacroix.
This will be Losilla's eighth year at Bochum and fourth since taking the captaincy in 2019/20. In that time, the 35-year-old Frenchman has helped earn promotion to the top flight in 2020/21 and then kept them there the following season. He has well and truly endeared himself to the supporters and established himself as a true figurehead of the club. Losilla extended his contract for another season in January this year and made clear his affection for the city and its football club that he so proudly represents. "VfL is my club," he told the club's website. "And I state that unreservedly. The city of Bochum has captured my heart and it's been my pleasure to give something back to the people here through our promotion and Bundesliga matches."
Dutch defender Gouweleeuw landed in Augsburg in January 2016 having previously captained AZ Alkmaar in his homeland and just three years later he was given the duties at FCA. New head coach Enrico Maßen, who at 38 is just seven years older than Gouweleeuw, has retained the centre-back as captain for the upcoming campaign, but there have been changes to his support structure. Daniel Caligiuri has succeeded Alfred Finnbogason as vice-captain, while FCA's five-man team council - selected by the players themselves - is completed by Felix Uduokhai, Andre Hahn and Niklas Dorsch.
Handed the captaincy at the start of the 2021/22 campaign, Endo had a gold plated position in the VfB Hall of Fame by the time the season came to an end. The Japan international was the club's Matchday 34 saviour as he popped up in the 92nd-minute to hit a winner against Cologne that kept Stuttgart in the Bundesliga. It was a goal that sent the Mercedes-Benz Arena into delirious celebration. Once the dust settled and Endo got back home, he was greeted by a chalk message on his driveway from his neighbours' children that simply read: "Legendo". We couldn't have put it better ourselves.
Dedryck Boyata's two-year stint as Hertha captain came to an end this summer, with Plattenhardt taking over. It was Plattenhardt's goal in the second leg of the 2021/22 playoff that sealed last gasp survival and it's hoped that the 30-year-old left-back with seven Germany caps will help incoming coach Sandro Schwarz guide the side clear of the relegation battle that dogged them last time out. In his final season as a player, hometown hero Kevin-Prince Boateng has been promoted to vice-captain as well, which gives Schwarz plenty of experience to rely upon. "It's an enormous honour to be able to lead the team onto the field as captain," said Plattenhardt, who has been at the club since 2014. "And I have great support in one of the all-time-greats with Prince."
Watch: Plattenhardt free-kick keeps Hertha up
Latza is another player entering his second year as captain on the back of a highly successful first campaign that resulted in Schalke earning an immediate return to the Bundesliga. A series of injuries restricted Latza to just 15 league games last term, though, and new coach Frank Kramer used his first pre-season at the club to assess his captaincy options before deciding that his 32-year-old midfielder should continue in the role. "We’ve used the last few days and weeks to speak in great length with everyone involved," said Kramer following his decision to keep Latza on as captain, with Simon Terodde and new arrival Maya Yoshida next in line. "The team is the most important thing and that’s why we took enough time to get a feel for the group and the hierarchy.”
At 24, Friedl is the youngest skipper in the division and a cool five years younger than 29-year-old trio Endo, Günter and Widmer. A former Bayern academy player, Friedl actually made his Bundesliga debut with the record German champions in 2017 before heading to Werder - initially on loan - in January 2018. He made 27 appearances as Werder earned promotion last year, which not only earned him a new contract this summer but also the armband. Following the departure of Ömer Toprak, Friedl was voted into the position by his teammates and described the captaincy as an honour. "I’m really pleased to have the trust of the boys," he told the Werder website. "It’s a great responsibility for me to represent this club as captain on and off the field."
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