England's Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the group D World Cup soccer match between Uruguay and England at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Who should be England’s new captain? Here’s the top five contenders…

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After Steven Gerrard announced his international retirement on Monday, the English national team are now looking for a new captain.

Gerrard, 34, has skippered the side since 2012 when Roy Hodgson took charge of the Three Lions but after 114 appearances for England he is finally calling it quits.

[RELATED: Gerrard retires from England duty]

Growing up, every Englishman dreams of captaining their national team but only a handful get to make that dream a reality.

Who will follow in Gerrard’s footsteps? Here are five fellows that I believe could be worthy of the sacred armband.

Wayne Rooney

Despite his spotty form for club and country of late, 28-year-old Rooney is the prime candidate to replace Gerrard as skipper. Sure, he’s had some tantrums and got silly red cards which have let down the national team in the past, but in recent years he has matured and is on course to become not only England’s leading appearance holder (currently has 95 caps) but also the leading goalscorer in the nations’ history. Roy Hodgson believes Rooney is a key cog in England’s machine and it is highly likely the Manchester United forward will wear the armband for the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign and beyond.

Joe Hart

Hart is 27 and already has 43 England caps to his name. If England are looking for continuity from their leader then the Man City ‘keeper is the way to go. With no real pressure being put on him as England’s number one, Hart could easily break the all-time caps record and play for the Three Lions for another decade. At least. He is a leader, has plenty of big game experience and with the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Hugo Lloris and Iker Casillas handed the captaincy for other national teams, don’t rule this out.

source: Getty Images
Will Hart, left, take over the captain’s armband from Gerrard?

Gary Cahill

One of the few players to come out of England’s World Cup campaign with his head held high, Cahill is a ‘proper’ English center half. Throwing his body on the line time and time again to block shots, make tackles and get attacks going, the Chelsea man inspires others with his actions. At the age of 28 he is just coming into his prime and would be a great captain of the national team. If he can get a decent partner in central defense for England, Cahill will lead England’s resurgence from the back.

Jack Wilshere

Bit of a controversial choice here, but Wilshere has all the tools to be a future England captain. Just 22, this is a bit of wildcard selection but I love the way Wilshere puts his heart and soul into every game. As we’ve seen in recent months he still needs to clean up his act off the field… but the Arsenal youngster is so good on the ball in midfield and has the ability to both pass and tackle his way out of trouble. He could be seen as the perfect character to get England to roll their sleeves up and turn the nations fortunes around. Controversial but worth a punt.

Theo Walcott

Yeah, throwing this one out there as Walcott will be one of the most experienced players left on the squad (how crazy is that!?) when the September qualifiers arrive. Theo has now missed out on the 2010 and 2014 World Cups through injury but when he is fit you’d expect him to be an integral part of England’s squad. Just 25, think how many more caps the Arsenal winger would have had he stayed injury free. Walcott has scored only five times in 36 games but on his day he’s a match-winner. Plus, he’s yet to reach his prime. Level-headed off the field and a perfect rode model, could the likes of Luke Shaw, Raheem Sterling and John Stones flourish from the example he sets?

MLS Cup: Toronto FC all about the team

Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund, center, celebrates his goal against the Montreal Impact with teammates Michael Bradley, right, and Steven Beitashour (33) during the second half of the second leg of MLS Eastern Conference championship series, in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Toronto, Ontario (AP) Team has been the theme for Toronto FC in the buildup to the MLS Cup final.

From boisterous practices to team-first media interviews, the All for One club motto has been plain to see ahead of the championship game Saturday against the visiting Seattle Sounders.

“You don’t get to this point by mistake or by accident. You get here because a group of special guys who have all bought into a philosophy, an identity,” said Toronto midfielder Will Johnson, an MLS Cup winner with Real Salt Lake and Portland.

“I say the same about Seattle. They’re bought into what they’re good at. We’re bought in, very motivated and want to sacrifice and put aside egos to get to a point as a team to compete for the big trophy.”

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

Star striker Jozy Altidore, no fan of chatting with the media, was downright prickly when a reporter asked him if he had taken time to reflect on his personal journey to the championship game.

“No,” he said definitively. “This isn’t personal, this is a team game. We’re here to try to help Toronto to be a winning team. This has nothing to do with individuals. So it has nothing to do with what I’ve been through. This is what the city’s been through, what the fans have been through, what this club has been through. That’s far more important.”

Fullback Justin Morrow, a seven-year MLS veteran, has never played this deep into the season before.

“Each week we build on top of each other and we get closer as the year goes on. It really feels like it’s a culmination this week,” he said.

[ UCL: Who can Arsenal, Man City, Leicester draw? ]

Coach Greg Vanney has made a point of praising the entire squad, including reserves who function as the scout team in practice. While he has done soccer’s equivalent of shortening his bench for the playoffs, the squad has stayed on point. If anyone has beefs, they have been kept to themselves.

That’s no small feat considering the salaries on the squad range from $7.12 million for star striker Sebastian Giovinco to $51,500 for youngsters Mo Babouli and Tsubasa Endoh.

For Morrow, being part of a tight-knit group allows you to forget that it is your job.

“When teams aren’t doing well, players tend to focus on that – their job and not about the other people on the team,” Morrow said. “And I think when teams are doing well, it becomes about the relationships between the players.”

Report: Atlanta United to acquire Parkhurst; Guardado hopes fading

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12:  Michael Parkhurst #4 of the Columbus Crew SC controls the ball against against the Philadelphia Union on March 12, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Atlanta United is adding MLS experience to its high-flying international acquisitions.

The expansion side is set to acquire Michael Parkhurst from the Columbus Crew, according to a report from The Sporting News.

[ MORE: Mourinho worried about Zorya pitch ]

Parkhurst, 32, has been a fixture for the Crew since returning to MLS after stints with Nordsjælland and FC Augsburg. The 25-times capped American defender would join a relatively loaded expansion unit that reportedly will also add veteran Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, it seems the first-year club’s hopes of landing Mexican star Andres Guardado are fading.

From Ives Galarcep for The Sporting News:

The club has one remaining designated player slot it is expected to fill ahead of its inaugural 2017 season, but transfer target Andres Guardado appears less likely to be the player to fill that slot, sources have told Goal USA.

The Crew was a massive disappointment last season, failing to make the playoffs one season after making a run to the MLS Cup Final. Is Parkhurst a good gamble for Atlanta?

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Men in Blazers podcast: Conte v. Pep, Cherries comeback, Spurs-Swans

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Rog and Davo relive the tactical battle between Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola, marvel at tiny Bournemouth’s comeback win over high-flying Liverpool and duck-and-cover while recapping Spurs 5-0 Swansea.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Mourinho accepts Zorya compliment, but says best coach “doesn’t exist”

Manchester United's coach Jose Mourinho, centre, attends a training session with his team at Chernomorets stadium in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, ahead of Thursday's Europa League group A soccer match against FC Zorya Luhansk. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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On the eve of his side playing Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League, Zorya Luhansk boss Yuriy Vernydub called counterpart Jose Mourinho the best manager in the world.

And Mourinho disagreed.

Well, in principle.

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

The Portuguese was flattered by Vernydub’s compliments and isn’t one to turn down praise. Yet at the same time, Mourinho thinks a coach’s success is year-to-year. There’s no clear best in the sport, according to Mou.

From ManUtd.com:

“He was nice by saying that but I don’t think he is right. I don’t think there is a best coach in the world. It doesn’t exist in my opinion. Every season one has to win the FIFA Gold Ball but I don’t think there is the best. You can say the best of the year and that I agree. Every year there is one with the most important result. So he is just being nice, no more than that.”

That’s almost meta, Mou.

Conceptually we understand, and Mourinho would feel he was the best in the world three seasons ago but not last year or this year (yet). Yet it’s difficult to say that the bodies of work from Pep Guardiola, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Antonio Conte, Luis Enrique, and Jurgen Klopp couldn’t be measured against each other, right?

[ MORE: United, Saints advancement scenarios ]

Onto the little picture Mourinho is worried about a potentially rock hard pitch at Zorya affecting the game. This, from the BBC:

“The pitch is very hard, the pitch is very icy,” said United boss Mourinho.

“They are putting warmth on the top of it, but the pitch is very difficult and people cannot make miracles. Let’s hope everything goes well.”

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