The Story Of Sol Campbell’s Move To Arsenal

Football transfers always have an impact on fans, whether they are happy to see a player arrive or sad to see someone leave. Sol Campbell’s transfer to Arsenal from Tottenham certainly caused a stir.

This is one of the most controversial transfers in British football history. Tottenham fans still have a lot of negative feelings towards Sol Campbell, which show no signs of changing any time soon.

Plenty of other transfers have caused controversy, including Fabian Delph’s transfer from Aston Villa to Manchester City, Samir Nasri’s from Arsenal to Man City and Robin van Persie’s transfer from Arsenal to Manchester United.

No transfer has caused as much controversy in Premier League than Campbell’s one to Arsenal. This is largely due to the team he joined from. Tottenham vs Arsenal is one of the biggest and fiercest rivalries in the country.

The Exit From Tottenham And Arrival At Arsenal

Sol Campbell was revered during his time at Tottenham, playing 268 times for Spurs and scoring ten goals. He was a top player but doing so for a side who finished no higher than seventh during his nine seasons with the club.

Sol Campbell celebrating a goal during his time at Spurs. Photo: Mark Leech / Offside

Talks over his departure grew. He failed to sign a new contract which meant the central defender was available on a free transfer. This is despite Campbell telling the media he was staying in a post-match press conference.

Many Spurs fans were left distraught at the prospect of Campbell leaving, but little did they know who he would go to.

On July 3rd 2001, the media came to Arsenal’s London Conley training ground. It was widely predicted that Arsenal was going to announce a new signing. However, it was not Campbell that journalist’s expected to turn up.

Richard Wright was expected to be the new signing announced. Instead, it was Campbell who would be seen shaking the hand of Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger.

Sol Campbell and Arsène Wenger.

Many years after the move, Campbell’s agent has spoken about how Barcelona offered a huge deal but ultimately his client wanted to stay in England, as this was deemed the best place for him.

Spurs fans will question whether as they would argue he could have gone to any club in Europe due to his tremendous talent.

Campbell during his time at Spurs.

Campbell was born and grew up in London. This was a chance for him to remain close to his family.

Arsenal’s vice chairman at the time was David Dean and he was said to be a key figure in selling the club to Campbell.

There is also the matter of silverware. Whilst loyalty is always a good trait for a footballer to have, most players want to be successful in their careers and silverware is often the forefront of players’ minds when it comes to their footballing decisions.

Campbell has since talked about the decision to join Arsenal.

“It was a big decision. I could have earned more money by going abroad but felt this was the place to be.”

“I’m sorry about the situation and how it happened. I’m not going to apologise for the move because I was very successful. I’m sorry about the hurt it inflicted on them”.

Campbell’s Success Since The Transfer To Arsenal

Sol Campbell alongside Ashley Cole as they celebrate their Premier League and F.A. Cup double.

You cannot argue against Campbell’s decision when he has won the trophies that he has won. During his time at Arsenal, Campbell won two Premier League’s, two FA Cups and a Champions League runners up medal in 2006.

Campbell won just one League Cup whilst at Tottenham and since he left for the Gunners in 2001, Spurs have won just one major honour to date.

This was the 2-1 win in extra time during the 2007/08 season against Chelsea where Jonathan Woodgate headed in the winner in the League Cup final. This may change when Tottenham play Man City in April for the chance to win the trophy once again.

Whichever way this final goes, Campbell would still have won more trophies for Arsenal in the five seasons at the club then Tottenham has won since he left.

Campbell’s return to White Hart Lane was highly anticipated. On November 17th 2001, Campbell was welcomed with a chorus of boos from the Tottenham crowd and signs of ‘Judas’ held up by fans. This game would end in a 1-1 draw.

Wenger has also talked about the difficulties Campbell faced as a result of the transfer.

“He couldn’t go to certain places for dinner or walk freely in London because of the anger of the Tottenham fans”.

Sol Campbell will most likely never gain the forgiveness of Tottenham fans but will certainly look back at his medal haul and not regret the move whatsoever.

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