A player who came through the Tottenham youth ranks infuriated Spurs fans when he ran down his contract and left on a free transfer for Arsenal in 2001, despite giving assurances that he "wasn't going anywhere."
Born in Newham and living in Plaistow with his family, although Campbell was with local club West Ham United as a very young schoolboy, he was selected at an early age to join the FA School of Excellence at Lilleshall and from there he joined Spurs. Spurs scout Len Cheesewright spotted him playing as a young boy for his local Newham Schools side in 1989, having attended the Lister Community School and his strength and style set him apart from the others in the team. His father Swell worked night shifts as a railway labourer and his mother Wilhelmina worked in the canteen at the Fords work at Dagenham.
Represented England at Under-15 and Under-16 levels.
As a young player, his size and strength gave him an ideal physique to play up front, which he did with some success, then in midfield, but he was moved back into central defence, where he found his niche. His debut as a substitute against Chelsea saw him enter the play as a forward and indeed he scored to get a consolation in a 1-2 defeat.
When he began to be selected for the first team, his position was as a full back and his pace gave him an advantage over speedy wingers. Although tall, his defensive qualities saw him make wingers have to turn back on themselves, as they found it difficult to get around him. When Gary Mabbutt retired, Christian Gross moved him into the middle of the back four, but he found it difficult to settle with a variety of partners there.
His ability to bring the ball out of defence and bring a calming influence to the defence saw him marked out as an England player, making his debut in May 1996 and he went on to win 69 caps for his country (40 while at Spurs). He became club captain and lifted the League Cup in 1999 at Wembley, but with his contract due to expire, he let speculation grow about his future, as Tottenham held onto him rather than sell him to Manchester United for £20 million as Campbell repeatedly told the Press that he did not intend to move. When it came to the FA Cup semi-final of 2001, he played against the odds and limped out of the action. This was the last time he wore a Spurs shirt and the next time he pulled on a shirt it was for that day's opponents.
A huge amount of vitriol was aimed at him for his decision, which he put down to ambition and having nothing to do with money. But with no transfer fee to be paid, he could negotiate a large signing on fee for himself. At Highbury, he got what he wanted, but left in similar circumstances after falling out of favour.
Joined Portsmouth on big money and that was part of the club's downfall, with Campbell one of the players still seeking £1.7 million from them in image rights and unpaid bonuses when they went into administration after he had captained them to win the 2008 FA Cup, with a 1-0 win over Cardiff City.
Wanting away from Pompey, he waited until his contract ran out and walked into a five year deal ay Notts. County, where money was being pumped into the League Two club. Unfortunately for him, the level of football was not to his liking and he left after only one game, with his contract being cancelled.
Started training with Arsenal to keep fit and filled a gap with injuries to their central defenders, so signed a short deal until the end of the season. He needed a new club and Newcastle United fitted the bill, accepting their offer of a one year deal over a three year contract at Glasgow Celtic. Played irregularly for the Magpies and on 25th May 2010, he was released once more.
The opportunity had been available for him to move abroad in the move he wanted originally from Tottenham, but he then said he wanted to stay near to his family, but subsequently moved to Portsmouth when Arsenal no longer wanted him ... especially after he was substituted in a game against West Ham United at Highbury (after a particularly poor performance) and then left the ground going missing for a number of days. He signed for Notts County when there was money pumped into the club with Sven Goran-Eriksson as the manager, but his stay lasted only days, with one away game at Morecombe and their basic conditions making him re-consider his future there and claiming that promises made to him were not being realised.
He went back to Arsenal to train and there were rumours of a move to West Ham United, but in the end he was surprisingly re-signed by the Gooners and played a few games for them, but was not the same player that had moved across North London years before. The Highbury fans were confounded by his performances.
When Newcastle United came in for him in the summer of 2011, he made yet another free transfer to join the Magpies, but his total of seven games for them showed that his playing days were coming to an end. Amid claims of wanting to play abroad, go into management and making films, he slipped away from the football scene and eventually, in May 2012 announced he had retired from playing.
There have been times when a large police presence have been required at White Hart Lane for his returns to play Spurs with the club he was representing at the time. His first return with Arsenal saw a juggernaut commandeered by the Police and parked across the entrance to Bill Nicholson Way to protect the Arsenal coach. Effigies were hung and set alight on his leaving and bottles thrown at the coach and once, at him on the pitch. A campaign with "Judas" balloons and a plan for fans to turn their backs on him showed the strength of feeling of the Tottenham supporters. Claims that racist chanting had taken place when he comes back to White Hart Lane are not true, as the only thing that has upset Spurs fans was the colour of his shirt. Never have I seen a player so affected by the crowd's reaction to them.
While he gave Spurs good
service while wearing the Lilywhite shirt, that was
sullied by the ham-fisted and disrespectful way that he
left the Lane, having previously stated that he was a
Spurs fan and would not join Arsenal. That will
never be forgotten.