Sulzeer Jeremiah Campbell, better known as Sol Campbell (born
Newham, London, 18 September 1974), is an English footballer
with Arsenal and England.
Campbell, a powerful central defender, was a prodigious
schoolboy talent and was therefore part-educated at the FA's
School of Excellence before joining the ranks at Arsenal's
deadly North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
He made his first team debut in December 1992, scoring a goal
after coming on as a substitute for Nick Barmby, though didn't
appear again that season. He eventually became Spurs' lynchpin
defender over the course of the next two seasons.
Campbell was picked for the England team which faced the
Republic of Ireland in 1995, but lost the cap and had the game
struck from his record because violence among supporters forced
the game to be abandoned. He had to wait more than a year for
his "next" debut, which came against Hungary in May 1996, coming
on as a substitute. Although he had only one cap by the time
Terry Venables selected his squad for Euro 96, Campbell got in
as defensive cover, and came on in England's famous 2-0 win over
Scotland for his second cap.
Over the next two years, Campbell became a strong and brave
presence at the heart of England's defence, largely displacing
Gareth Southgate in the race to partner Tony Adams. The pairing
were first choice as new England coach Glenn Hoddle shaped his
squad for the 1998 World Cup in France.
Campbell was involved in a highly controversial incident in
England's second round clash against old footballing foes
Argentina. The game was locked at 2-2 with fewer than ten
minutes to go (and with England down to ten men after David
Beckham was sent off) when Campbell managed to head a corner
into the Argentinian net. He wheeled away to celebrate his first
international goal, which looked certain to put England into the
quarter finals, but a push by Alan Shearer had caused the
referee to blow for a foul. Campbell was still in the corner of
the pitch with England supporters as Argentina restarted the
game and counter-attacked. England went out on penalties but
Campbell emerged a hero.
Campbell played in England's successful qualification campaign
for Euro 2000 and in all the three group games at the
tournament, which England exited after defeat by Romania. His
club career, however, was starting to evoke major concern among
Spurs supporters and interest within the media because he was
entering the last year of his contract and was stalling on a new
deal. Word spread that he was determined to achieve domestic
honours, something which Spurs had failed to do.
In the summer of 2001 Campbell's contract expired and, with
several top European clubs courting him, he stunned football
(and left Spurs fans raging) by joining Arsenal. Ever since, he
has been labelled Judas by Spurs supporters, though Campbell
always maintained that he loved Tottenham, and that his decision
was entirely professional. Away from Tottenham, the rest of
football admried his guts for taking such a decision, which was
vindicated further when he won the Premiership and FA Cup in his
first season. His partner at the back was Adams, who had retired
from England duty late in 2000, and would do so with Arsenal at
the end of that 2002 season, leaving Campbell as the senior
defender for both club and country.
Campbell scored his first England goal at the 2002 World Cup in
the opening group game against Sweden. England drew the game
1-1, but then beat the old enemy Argentina in the next match (in
which Campbell was outstanding) and ultimately progressed to the
quarter finals, where they lost to eventual winners Brazil.
In 2003 Campbell maintained his Arsenal and England place, but
an injury he suffered towards the end of the season curtailed
the Gunners' title chances and he also missed their successful
retention of the FA Cup. He did, however, help his country
qualify for Euro 2004.
After a successful domestic season for Campbell in 2004, when
Arsenal regained the Premiership title without losing a game,
Campbell yet again had a late goal disallowed as England fought
to make progress in a major tournament.
Against hosts Portugal in the quarter finals, the game was
locked at 1-1 with a minute to go when Campbell won a header in
the opposition six-yard box to score what seemed to be a
dramatic, late winner for England. However, the referee, Urs
Meier, once more noticed a push by an England team-mate (this
time Campbell's defensive partner John Terry) and gave a free
kick. Again England ultimately lost on penalties. Meier was
beseieged with threats to his life afterwards.
Campbell continues to play for Arsenal and England and has a
caps total of 66. Though now past the age of 30, he shows no
sign of ageing and will be a key member of the 2006 World Cup
squad should England qualify. He is one of the country's most
respected footballers both among players and supporters, apart
from those who frequent the terraces at Spurs.
As a single man, Campbell is often photographed on evenings out
and has dated some high-profile women in showbusiness, but he
has also kept much of his private life private. He has most
recently been linked with Dido, the singer who is also a devout
Campbell has a son, Joseph, from a previous relationship.