WTTGT Writer: Daniel Cox
It is rare that a footballer playing in North London will cross the divide between the two fierce rivalries of Arsenal and Tottenham, Sol Campbell has not only done that but also established himself as a legend in North London.
It all started back in 1992 when Campbell arrived on the scene at White Hart Lane as a fresh faced 18 year old striker, scoring on his debut against Chelsea as a substitute. Standing at 6 ft 2 and built like a body builder, Campbell’s attributes saw him convert from attack to defence, becoming a lynchpin at centre-back for the next nine years for Spurs. Campbell’s defining moment for Tottenham came in 1999 when he captained the side to a League Cup success over Leicester City.
What was to follow two years later not even the famous Mystic Meg could have predicted…
After amassing 316 appearances for Tottenham Hotspur, the then 27-year-old had come to the end of his contract, and declared his desire of Champions League football. A host of European clubs were after his signature, but not fazed by what Tottenham die-hards would think, Campbell made the short move down Seven Sisters Road to join the Gunners on a free transfer.
Calls of ‘Judas’ and ‘traitor’ rang loudly from Tottenham fans into Campbell’s ears, but the towering defender ignored the taunts of betrayal and went on to enjoy success with Arsenal, winning the Premiership and FA Cup double in his first season.
The next campaign he was a key member of Arsenal’s ‘invincible’ side in which the Gunners conceded just 27 goals. Campbell went on to become a formidable figure in Arsenal’s defence for the next six years, winning another Premiership medal and two more FA Cup winner’s medals to go around his neck.
He experienced a career high and low in the 2005 Champions League final with Barcelona. The high was rising in the box to send a thumping header into the net, Arsenal 1, Barcelona 0. The low saw keeper Jens Lehman sent off for the Gunners which proved costly, ending in a 2-1 defeat. After 197 appearances, Campbell left that summer to join Portsmouth.
Last year saw Campbell make a brief return to The Emirates. On his 200th appearance for the club, he buried a header against FC Porto in the last 16 of the Champions League. The 36 year old then ended his affliction with Arsenal that summer to join Newcastle United.
He is a former England international with 73 caps, 316 appearances for Tottenham Hotspur and 211 appearances for Arsenal… whether you are a Gunner or a Spurs fan, nobody can deny Sol Campbell’s legacy as a true North London great.
Sol Campbell… I salute you.
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