One of the secrets behind any set of champions' Premier League success is an inspirational captain.

Just look at old footage or pictures of the Premier League trophy being hoisted into the air at the end of every season since 1992 and you will see a born leader with English football's most prestigious prize in his grasp.

These men have led by example on the pitch, inspiring their team-mates every week by taking games by the scruff of the neck to ensure victory for their clubs.

This list features two captains who have hauled their sides to Premier League glory, while the other couldn't be omitted despite failing to land his hands on the trophy.

Honourable mentions must go to a number of brilliant leaders including Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira, Nemanja Vidic, Alan Shearer, Vincent Kompany and others who didn't quite make the cut but certainly came close to selection.

The Premier League's top three inspirational captains:

3. Steven Gerrard | Liverpool

Steven Gerrard has never won a Premier League trophy, but if he had he may well have been sitting top of this list.

The England international has been consistently excellent for Liverpool since 1998 - like only a select few Anfield greats before him. His loyalty to the Reds the only reason why he will end his career with a few less winners' medals than his performances deserved.

Nevertheless, he has still won a significant amount during his Liverpool career.

With medals for two FA Cups, three League Cups, two Super Cups, a UEFA Cup and, of course, a Champions League in his collection - Gerrard is undoubtedly a Liverpool and Premier League legend.

2. John Terry | Chelsea

To Chelsea fans, "JT" is the ultimate skipper.

'Captain. Leader. Legend,' reads one prominent banner at Stamford Bridge in recognition of one of the club's most famous sons - it's not difficult to understand why the Blues faithful hold Terry in such high regard.

Six years after turning professional in 1998, he was appointed Chelsea's full-time captain by Jose Mourinho at the tender age of 23.

It proved an inspired decision by the Portuguese coach, who watched Terry lift the Premier League trophy in 2005 and 2006, when he was also appointed England skipper.

Terry went on to win a third Premier League title in 2010 - and now has his sights set on a fourth this term.

1. Roy Keane | Manchester United

Roy Keane is undoubtedly one of the greatest captains in Manchester United's long history - and is arguably the best skipper of the Premier League era.

The Irishman's fierce will to win, competitiveness and mental toughness not only summed him up - it also came to sum up the club he proudly represented for 12 years.

Yes, Keane left Old Trafford under somewhat of a cloud in 2005, but his legacy lives on.

After helping United win seven Premier League titles, four FA Cups and a Champions League title - he didn't play in the 1999 final, but produced one of the most magnificent individual performances of recent times against Juventus in the semis - how could it not?

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Topics:
Premier League
Steven Gerrard
Football
Roy Keane
Manchester United
John Terry