From Brennan to Dozzell – What happened next for Ipswich Town’s youngest-ever captains
PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 December 2019
Flynn Downes became the youngest ever captain in Ipswich Town’s history on Sunday. STUART WATSON looks back at some previous young Blues skippers.
The late great Kevin Beattie was named captain just once and that was for a trip to face his hometown club Carlisle in January 1975.
By that point, having just turned 22, The Beat - who made his senior debut at 17 - had already become an established starter under Sir Bobby Robson. He would make his England debut just three months later.
Town lost 2-1 at Carlisle that day. They went on to finish just two points behind Division One winners Derby County that season, reaching the FA Cup semi-finals and the League Cup quarter-finals.
Mick Mills may have been the captain during that halcyon era, which eventually saw Town triumph in the FA Cup and UEFA Cup, but Beattie is now widely recognised as the club's greatest ever player.
The Lancashire-born midfielder, who came through the youth ranks at Town, had broken into the team as a teenager and already been a regular for four seasons when new boss John Duncan decided to name him skipper.
His honour came just shy of his 22nd birthday in September 1987 for a second-tier game against Swindon at Portman Road.
The day couldn't have gone much better for the free-kick specialist with a wand of a left foot as he scored in a 3-2 victory, Frank Yallop and Mitch d'Avray grabbing the other goals.
That proved to be Brennan's final season with the Blues. The five-cap England U21 international joined Middlesbrough, who had pipped Town to promotion in Division Two, for a £375k fee only to suffer relegation in his debut campaign and a relegation battle in the second.
A £500k switch to Howard Kendall's Manchester City followed and there he was part of a team that was fighting at the top end of the top-flight for two years.
Following four years at Oldham, including time under the management of Joe Royle and Graeme Sharp, Brennan went and played in China and Australia before returning to England to finish his career at Essex clubs Daggenham & Redbridge, Billericay and Canvey Island.
Mills was first handed the armband at the age of 22 years and 22 days for an FA Cup fifth round replay at West Brom in January 1971.
Robson appointed the versatile full-back as team captain at the start of the next season, officially taking over from legendary 1962 Division One winner Billy Baxter, and so started a very important relationship.
The Robson-Mills axis was at the forefront of Town's glory over the coming years. Mills would captain England eight times too, including at the 1982 World Cup. Eventually he would hand the armband on, both for club and country, to a certain Terry Butcher.
The centre-back had already become the youngest captain in New Zealand history after leading the team out for a 2-2 draw versus El Salvador on 23 May 2012.
Subsequently, in January 2013, the academy graduate was made Town skipper at the age of 22 years and 280 days for an FA Cup third round match at Aston Villa in January 2013 (L 2-1).
Luke Chambers and Christophe Berra were always ahead of him in the line for the armband though.
Speaking in 2017, Smith said: "I think any player would want to captain the club they are at. I've worn the armband on a couple of occasions and that's always a proud moment. If a manager was to give me that on a permanent basis I would grasp it with both hands and like to think I would revel in that responsibility."
Smith left Ipswich in January 2018 to sign for MLS side Colorado Rapids.
Jason Dozzell grew up a goalkick away from Portman Road, was a proper fan as a boy and lived the dream when becoming a player.
So it meant the world to him when John Lyall made him captain, at the age of 23, in January 1991. Town won 1-0 at Blackburn that day courtesy of a Steve Whitton goal.
David Linighan was the permanent skipper at that time, with Town promoted to the top-flight the following season.
Dozzell - who had scored on his Town debut at the age of 16 - went on to make a £1.9m move to Tottenham. After an injury-disrupted time at White Hart Lane he briefly returned to Ipswich on loan before spells at Northampton and Colchester.
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