Johnny Russell - Sporting Kansas City - celebration

Sporting Kansas City have a new leader.

The club officially named Scottish winger Johnny Russell as club captain on Wednesday. Russell, who joined SKC in 2018, had worn the armband a few times in 2020 as a stand-in.

“I said it last year when I was given the armband temporarily, it’s a massive honor,” Russell said, via SKC's club site. “To be officially named captain is an [important] thing for me and something I won’t take lightly. Everyone knows by now what you’re going to get from me and that’s not going to change.”

Russell, 30, has 27 goals and 30 assists in 96 appearances across all competitions for Sporting since arriving from Derby County. The Scotland international quickly became a fan and locker-room favorite upon his debut. 

SKC still have a number of veterans alongside Russell that help shoulder leadership responsibilities, like Graham Zusi, Tim Melia and Ilie Sanchez

“As we finished last year, Johnny was captain in a lot of games and I thought he did a tremendous job,” head coach Peter Vermes said. “He’s shown an incredible amount of leadership last year and since we’ve been back [for preseason]. Personality-wise and the way he goes about his business every day, he’s the perfect guy to rely on.”

Russell takes the armband after club legend Matt Besler departed this winter via free agency. Besler had been with the club since 2009. Besler signed with expansion side Austin FC