On Saturday Aaron Ramsay became Wales’ youngest ever captain. It is rare for an inexperienced player, who has not yet encountered at least several seasons of hardship and glory in the sport, to be handed such a responsibility. Yet it happens more often than first thought.

Below are some other instances of callow leaders who excelled despite their tender years.

Looking at them collectively it is apparent the reasoning behind each decision falls into two distinct categories.

Some are simply born to command. Tony Adams, for example, probably emerged from the womb pointing out instructions to the midwife.

Whilst others were presumably handed the role because their precocious talent out-stripped all of their team-mates to such a significant degree that the club quickly became reliant on the young genius to inspire all around him through his superior ability and actions. So why not dish out the additional onus of leadership too?

Ramsay, with his sleek passing range, intelligent positioning, and fleet-footed retention of possession, certainly falls into this camp. Though mature and level-headed for his years he has not yet shown even a glimmer of Adams’ growling, fist-pummelling organisational or motivational skills.

He will be expected instead to inspire through excellence alone.

There is however another, more cynical, reason for bestowing the captain’s armband upon a talented youngster. It will never be openly acknowledged and applies only at club level.

If a club places such a burden of duty upon the shoulders of their inexperienced star, or so the theory goes, it might foster a sense of obligation and further kinship with the club and the supporters. And make their prized property feel obliged to stay around for a season or two longer than they would ordinarily before moving onwards and upwards to bigger things.

Which aptly brings us to the first of our adolescent skippers…..

Fernando Torres Aged 19 Atletico Madrid

The teenage Torres soon made himself indispensible to the Spanish outfit, blazing nearly twenty goals in only his second full season after turning pro. The giants of the European game all looked on, waiting to pounce, so during the summer months the club made this extraordinarily talented, yet shy and meek-mannered, boy their ‘capitan’.

It was a strange decision yet their trust was rewarded as El Nino became a talismanic leader for several further seasons before finally fulfilling his long-held dream move to Anfield.

Ray Wilkins Aged 18 Chelsea


In 1975 Chelsea were a club in turmoil. Relegation from the top-flight was swiftly followed by a number of key departures including their legendary skipper Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris. New boss Eddie McCreadie found himself in charge of a rag-tag squad mainly made up of untried youngsters and took the unconventional decision to award one of them with the captain’s armband rather than looking to age and wisdom for the role.

‘Butch’ Wilkins rose to the challenge admirably, mentoring his fellow callow charges through a long successful promotion campaign before retaining his role for a further four seasons.

'With these dark, smouldering Latin looks I might be Chelsea's manager one day'

Barry Venison Aged 20 Sunderland

Before becoming a failed TV pundit in faux-intellectual spectacles and garish suits that even John Barnes would shy from, Venison was quite a decent footballer.

A native son of the North-East, in 1985 he became the youngest player to ever captain a side in a Wembley final when his local Sunderland side took on Norwich in a League Cup show-down that ultimately proved to be a disappointing experience for the youngster as they lost 1-0. Just twelve months later, after overseeing his side to relegation and consequently failing to help bring them back up, Venison wrote to every club in the top division asking for them to sign him.

Undeservingly he was rewarded for his ingratitude and lack of loyalty with a transfer to Liverpool where he consistently underachieved for several years.

John Smith, the captain of the HMS Titanic, reportedly remained on the bridge as his doomed ship sank into the icy ocean. Fellow skipper Venison would have been first onto the lifeboat.

Steve Perryman Aged 20 Tottenham Hotspur


Now we’re talking. Perryman was an archetypal leader, quiet but no-less-imposing, who led by example with his dedication and service to one club. Twenty-seven years – many of them as team captain – and a record 854 first team appearances for the Spurs is a fine and distinguished achievement.

After only eighteen months at the Lane he was duly handed the captaincy and it’s not hard to see why. Some people possess a natural maturity far beyond their years and it’s easy to imagine that Perryman bypassed puberty completely and went straight to old-codger-hood. He probably bought a racy TR7 as a youth to keep in with the lads. But you just know that he wore comfortable driving gloves.

Quiet, dignified and reliable. The Rolls-Royce of captains.

Patrick Vieira Aged 19 AS Cannes


In only his second full season as a professional Vieira had already established himself as a class apart from his peers, a pivotal figure dominating the proceedings with his tireless running and imposing physique. At a tender age where acne and Joy Division enter most of our lives he was duly awarded the captaincy of the Ligue 1 club before soon moving on to the bright lights of Milan.

Nigel Reo-Coker Aged 19 Wimbledon


After a couple of barren seasons out of the spotlight it is easy to forget just what an impact this once-explosive box-to-box midfielder made in his formative years in the top-flight. Accorded the captaincy almost immediately at the Dons the combative Reo-Coker has gone on to skipper two other clubs (West ham and Aston Villa) all before his twenty-fifth birthday.

Tony Adams Aged 21 Arsenal


Unjustly labelled a ‘donkey’ in his early years for his route-one hoofs up field, a supposed lack of pace, and ponderous running style that was reminiscent of poor old Boxer from Animal Farm, Adams underwent a remarkable renaissance under the tutorage of Wenger, becoming a formidable blend of staunch English grit and sophisticated continental nous.

The stats are impressive to say the least – over five hundred appearances for just the one club and skippering them for fourteen seasons to a clutch of honours ranging from four league titles to European glory.

Current England captain John Terry has carved out an almost identical career to Adams thus far – wearing the armband of a major London club from the age of twenty-one, leading from the back, and pointing an awful lot. But it is hard to see a similar cultural rebirth occurring in the philandering Cockney chav.

Adams, through typical enduring determination, finally overturned a negative portrayal of himself that was ingrained within millions of football supporters, and deserves enormous credit for that.

'Well you can think Chopin's Etude in G-sharp minor is superior to his waltzes but you'd be very wrong you facking mug'

Ante Vukusic Aged 19 Hadjuk Split


Let’s end with a present day example of puppy power. Vukusic is an extremely promising young talent who is reportedly on the radar of Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea.

A Croatian striker with the sacred one-in-two strike ratio that gets managers very excited indeed, his future looks immense. Yet perhaps his most impressive achievement to date is to snag the captain’s armband for both his club and the national Under-21 team before his twentieth birthday.

It seems that Ramsay is not alone in barely being of age to vote yet still being given the responsibility to lead out ten older and more life-wizened team-mates onto the field of play.