Where are they now? The search for former Gunners: Week One – Kevin Campbell

It seems really weird to introduce myself, but the hell with it, here it goes. I’m Matt, and I have been the editor of the site for the past year. While I’ve enjoyed myself since taking over the site, I haven’t had to power to enforce the much-needed changes that I thought WTTGT demanded.

However, a new era has commenced following the arrival of new owner Dave Seager. Like a knight in shining armour, he has strolled in and brought an astonishing team of champion writers in the process as well as a vision to transform the site to an Arsenal Super Site with a brand new image, brand new content and brand new contributors.

That’s not to say that you will have never heard of them before, and with all our combined efforts, we hope to make WTTGT the elite site for Gooners. Watch this space…

In the mean time, I’ve had a dilemma on my hands. Due to all the existing variety of content being plastered all over the site, I have had a rather tricky task of finding a weekly topic to fill you in with. That’s when it came to me. For all the gems that are brought into this club, the Thierry Henry’s, the Dennis Bergkamp’s, the Patrick Vieira’s, the Cesc Fabregas’ etc, there are always one or two obscure players who don’t quite cut it. Every now and then you think about them and wonder just what happened to them once they left the the Arsenal. 

Well, that’s where I come in. I’ll be bringing you a new forgotten man every week, telling you about his life prior to the Arsenal, educating you on his time in North London, and informing you of just where the hell he is now. 

So without further ado, here is the debut of Where are they now? – The search for former Gunners.

I’m certain many of you could tell me who Kevin Campbell is. I’m sure most of you could tell me how good a player he was. However, I’m not too confident that you would be able to tell me what he is doing at the moment.

Well, let me talk you through the career of Kevin Campbell.

Striker Campbell joined the Arsenal back in 1985 as a blue chipper and remained trapped in the Gunners youth setup for the following three years, which included one captivating campaign when he racked up 59 goals on the way to winning the FA Youth Cup. He finally paid his dues before becoming a man and graduated to the first team in 1988.

Campbell faced strong competition from the likes of Alan Smith and Paul Merson for places in the team after making his debut on May 7 1998 against Everton. He then moved out on loan to get some experience under his belt at Leyton Orient the following year where he netted nine times in 16 appearances for the O’s. Orient were keen to keep hold of Campbell, but Arsenal were having none of it.

He spent another season out on loan, this time at Leicester City, before establishing himself in the Gunners first team with eight goals in 10 games that helped the club triumphantly capture the first division title in 1991.

However, hot shot Ian Wright was added to the team in the summer, and while Campbell maintained a place in the starting lineup, he was frequently in the shadow of his new partner. The following year saw Big Kev score some crucial goals as Arsenal romped to FA Cup and League Cup success in 1993, before netting 19 times on the way to securing the Cups Winners’ Cup the year after; his best-ever goals haul for the Gunners.

However, Campbell lost his form in the 1994-95 season and, following the arrivals of star men John Hartson and then the insatiable Iceman Dennis Bergkamp, he left the club in the summer of 1995; parting with a commendable 59 goals in 224 appearances for the club.

Campbell’s next destination was Nottingham Forest, signing for £2.5m, where he spent three seasons. He didn’t get off to the best of starts after enduring relegation with the side in 1997 before scoring 23 goals to help propel the European champions straight back into the top flight.

His next move was a controversial one that prompted former Forest teammate Pierre van Hooijdonk to go on strike, after Campbell moved to Turkey to play for Trabzonspor. The switch proved to be anything but Turkish delight, and was a really bad one for Campbell. The forward endured just seven depressing months in the country, during which time he received racial abuse from the club president; labelling him a”discoloured cannibal” and saying “We bought him as a goal machine, but he turned out to be awashing machine”.

Despite his popularity among the Turkish faithful, Campbell jetted back to England , and more specifically to the Merseyside, where he joined an Everton side who were fighting to stay in the Premier League. He linked up initially on loan in March 1999 but made the move permanent for £3m in the off-season after scoring nine goals in eight games, becoming the first on-loan player to win a player of the month award, and more importantly keeping the Toffees in England’s elite divison.

Campbell, who scored the critical winner in the next Merseyside derby, finished as Everton’s top scorer for a number of seasons and became a real hit at the club. His tenure at Goodison Park came to an end in 2005, after injury problems and the emergence of Wayne Rooney thwarted his opportunities in the first team.

While at Everton, Campbell invested a hefty slice of his wages into a record label called 2 Wicked, stating: “I want to be in the music business – it’s always been a case of when, not if.” He signed rebel rapper Mark Morrison. Campbell was caused some grief in December 2004, when he was forced to take out a court injunction against rival label Jet Star, in order to prevent them from releasing one of Morrison’s albums. The injunction was lifted, with the album being released later on.

Campbell called it a day at Everton, and opted to move south and spent a year and a half at West Bromwich Albion. He enjoyed a breathtaking start at the Hawthorns, instantly being named the captain of the side before leading them to the impossible great escape when Albion became the first team to have been bottom of the table on Christmas Day but survive relegation.

Now a bonafied veteran, he left in May 2006 following the club’s eventual relegation before a short spell at Cardiff City, but deciding that enough was enough in February 2007 and retired. Campbell holds the rather unwanted accomplishment of being the highest-scoring English player in the Premier League to have not win an England cap as well as being the ONLY player to have score four hattricks with four different top-flight English clubs.

Since hanging up his boots, Campbell has decided to become a full-time bossman. The now-43-year-old is the co-owner of security firm T1 Protection, that specialised in providing body guards to celebrities and other wealthy customers.  Like many former football stars, Campbell has also dedicated some time to becoming a pundit for an Asian Sports coverage company, giving his expert thoughts of the Premier League and Champions League.

While it’s a bit steep to go as far as saying that Campbell was a hero at Higbury, he was certainly not flop. And possessing his own muscle-heavy lackeys, I certainly wouldn’t tell him otherwise.

And now you know.

Here is a look at the man in action.

Matt Cotton

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4 Responses to Where are they now? The search for former Gunners: Week One – Kevin Campbell

  1. L_CRANG@HOTMAIL.COM May 6, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    The problem with Campbell's career at Highbury was 'the wright effect'. Everything went through Wright, at the detriment of Alan Smith and Campbell. Give the ball to wright, well score and defend 1-0. Campbell got an excellent hat trick against swindon and brilliant against parma, when Wright was suspended. Shame really

  2. May 7, 2013 at 4:44 am #

    Good topic and strong one that did make one eager to see a new week. Thanks. Please if you need assistance on Kanu Nwankwo,I would surely be glad to help. mauk me

  3. Steved01 May 8, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    Very interesting. I'll look out for the next edition…up the arse.

  4. Naresh Sevani May 9, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    Enjoyed reading this! I’m always curious about retired footballers and what they end up doing, but even more interesting if it’s ex-gunners.

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