History: Kevin Campbell – Who scored 46 goals for Arsenal despite being Ian Wright’s backup

Kevin Campbell

Campbell commenced his playing days at Arsenal as a trainee joining the North London outfit as a schoolboy, where he racked up 59 goals in one campaign. He also lifted the FA Youth Cup in 1988 with The Gunners. In early May 1988, Campbell made his official first team debut however his attacking position was usually consumed by Paul Merson and Alan Smith.

Campbell showed his worth during a loan stint at Leyton Orient in 1989 netting nine times in 16 appearances. Campbell assisted the side to promotion but wasn’t chosen in their successful playoff final victory over Wrexham due to his loan period coming to an end beforehand.

 Frank Clark in charge of Orient wanted to keep Campbell but Arsenal was adamant on keeping the young talisman. After a tricky beginning to the 1989/90 season, he was loaned out for a second time to Leicester City. Although in the next few seasons he made a name for himself in the Arsenal line-up grabbing eight goals in ten games to help The Gunners secure the 1990/91 First Division Championship.

However, The North Londoners brought in Ian Wright of September 1991 where Campbell remained in the first team in the shadow of the new prolific goalscorer. Despite this he netted more times, grabbing pivotal goals for Arsenal during their 1993 League and FA Cup winning run scoring equalisers versus Millwall and Derby County. In prime form Campbell found the back of the net 19 times throughout the 1993/94 season in the Cup Winners Cup campaign where he hit four strikes when he helped Arsenal to the final of the competition. The following season Campbell’s goalscoring abilities dropped off in the 1994/95 campaign.

In the summer of 1995 after 224 matches for Arsenal and 60 goals he moved to Nottingham Forest in a purchase worth £2.5 million where he stayed for three years. He was a part of the team who were booted into relegation in 1997, his 23 goals the next campaign allowed for Forest to secure the Football League Championship of 1998 to return to the Premier League.

Although Campbell strangely departed The Reds at the end of the campaign to become a member of the Turkish outfit Trabzonspor for £2.5 million which saw Forest teammate Pierre Van Hoodijonk go on strike. His career in Trabzon left the side within seven months after a miscalculated racial situation which included club president, Mehmet Ali Yilmaz describing him as a “cannibal”. Campbell and his folks had also not been paid which he insisted be changed. In unification with Campbell the two skippers, Ogun Temizkanoglu and Abdullah Ercan, stood beside him for a press conference in which he declared his time was up at the club.

Everton who were in a dire position fighting relegation from the Premiership brought Campbell in on loan during March 1999. His flare helped the club straight away as he netted nine goals in his first eight starts. These achievements saw him as The Toffees top goalscorer home and away from Goodison Park during the campaign. The first of his six goals which were grabbed in the first three matches saw him receive Everton’s player of the month in April, becoming the first loanee to be handed the accolade.

Campbell’s transfer to Everton became a permanent deal in summer of 1999 for a deal worth £3 million. For the 1999/2000 campaign, he grabbed The Toffees winning strike in the Merseyside derby over Liverpool away from home being the side’s last win at Anfield till 2021. He finished the year as the sides top goalscorer for a second successive season with 12 goals in total.

Campbell was The Toffees main talisman again the next campaign, netting on only four occasions during the 2001/02 season when Everton’s captain. Campbell was Everton’s top goalscorer for the following campaign. After that he was plagued with horrific injuries seeing him turn out for the team which he departed in 2005.

The Englishman is The Toffees fifth highest premier league goalscorer in history, he was also Everton’s first black captain.

Campbell left for West Brom in January 2005 in a free purchase and helped the side become members of the Premier League for the first time. The adventure saw the Baggies be the first team to escape the drop come the end of the season after being bottom of the table on Christmas day.

In May of 2006 West Brom were demoted to the Championship, Campbell was let go by the outfit. He later put pen to paper at Cardiff City in a free transfer in August of that year. He whipped one in during a FAW Premier Cup quarter-final game away to Carmarthen Town for Cardiff in February 2007. He also turned out for the Welsh side versus The Baggies. He later parted ways with the team retiring later on in 2007.

Campbell only picked up four caps for England U-21 and one for England B. He claims the accolade of being the English footballer who had scored the most time in the Premiership without receiving a callup for his nation. In late 1992 he was back up for a friendly versus Spain, but this was the closest he came to featuring in the first team.

Campbell has appeared numerous times since retiring in 2007 as a TV pundit for Sky Sports and as Sony TEN as commentator for Premiership and Champions League fixtures.

Now age 54 Campbell goes down in Arsenal folklore as one of the crucial members of Arsenals early 90s domestic and European success.

Liam Harding

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1 Comment

  1. A middling to decent player only and to claim “he goes down in Arsenal folklore” is to my mind ludicrous hype.
    Its good that Liam writes about several of our top players, Drake, Brady and others of that ilk.
    But CAMPBELL??
    Come on now Liam , please!!

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