May 24, 2012
AUCKLAND - Tommy Smith will become one of the youngest ever All Whites captains when he leads the team in today’s international against El Salvador in Houston.
The 22-year-old Ipswich Town defender dons the armband for the first time in his 10th international and will also lead the team against Honduras on Sunday (NZT) as is believed to be the youngest All Whites skipper ever named.
Among candidates from the modern era, Danny Halligan, Malcolm Dunford and current All Whites coach Ricki Herbert were all 23 when they captained the national team for the first time.
Herbert, without regular captain Ryan Nelsen (injured) and vice captain Tim Brown (retired) for the USA-based internationals and the upcoming OFC Nations Cup in the Solomon Islands, has signalled that he intends to name a young player to be Nelsen’s long-term deputy.
Smith’s elevation for internationals against El Salvador and Honduras puts him firmly in contention for that role along with West Ham defender Winston Reid, who joins the squad in Honiara.
“Ryan Nelsen will captain the side throughout the World Cup campaign but with Tim Brown’s retirement we will look to appoint a long term vice-captain and will probably look for someone who has future leadership potential. We’ll make that decision when we get to the Solomon Islands.”
Today’s match kicks off at 1pm (NZT) with live coverage on Sky Sports 3.