Kevin Campbell: from football to security

Which Premiership player has scored the most goals without winning an international cap?

Certainly for some time it was Kevin Campbell, who also appeared on a list originally published by the Guardian, of the 10 best players in the Premier League never to get a full cap.

I’m not sure if Campbell’s record has been overtaken but I am sure he still is up there as one of the players who scored a lot and never got a cap.

But despite his work in winning the 1991 title he is not, it seems to me, that fondly remembered at Arsenal – which is a shame because he did make a valuable contribution, especially to that league championship.

Kevin Campbell scored 76 Premiership goals for Arsenal.  He was born 4 February 1970 who played for Arsenal, Nottm Forest, Everton and WBA, as well as Trabzonspor, Leyton Orient, Leicester City and Cardiff City.

He signed for Arsenal in 1985 and made his debut in the first team against Everton in an end of season outing on 7 May 1988.

Having been a top scorer in the youth team he showed his ability again in 1989 on loan with Orient, with nine goals in 16, but after a few starts in 1989-90 he went to Leicester on loan before breaking into the Arsenal team near the end of the campaign, joining in the championship winning 1990/1 season, scoring eight in ten.

Arsenal then signed Ian Wright in 1991 but Campbell stayed in the team making 22 league starts and 9 appearances as a sub that season with 13 goals.  He was also part of the FA Cup and League Cup double. In 1993/4 he had his best goal scoring season getting 19 in all competitions and won the Cup Winners’ Cup, but in 1994/5 despite 19 starts and four appearances as a sub in the league he only got four goals.  The management changed, John Hartson and Dennis Bergkamp turned up and that was that.

He made his last appearance for us on his birthday on 4 February 1995 in   Sheffield Wednesday 3 Arsenal 1.  He had played 224 times for Arsenal, scoring 59 goals in all major competitions.

So in the summer break of 1995 he was sold to Nottingham Forest who were European Champions.  The side were relegated and promoted back during his three years there.

He then went to Trabzonspor but only stayed seven months, getting what was at the time the inevitable racist attacks on him.  Indeed remembering that era I recall thinking, “did no one tell him that is what happened in Turking football?”   It is reported that the club president was among those engaging in rampant racism.

He returned to England to sign for Everton in March 1999 on loan – later turned into a permanent deal.  To seemingly everyone’s surprise, after not scoring in this first two games he got nine goals in the next seven.  At the same moment Francis Jeffers came to life for Everton, and the partnership was a huge success – albeit for a very short while.

But still he became the club captain but he started to be hampered by injuries, and once more seemed to be fading out as a player until David Moyes reactivated his career in 2002/3 – before replacing Campbell with Marcus Bent as the solo striker – and ultimately discovering Wayne Rooney.

Campbell is still highly regarded in Everton circles, although his goal totals there were not huge (but he was their top scorer several times, once with just ten goals.)

In January 2005 Campbell went to WBA as club captain and helped them avoid relegation.  However they did go down the following season and he moved on to Cardiff in the Championship in August 2006.  He scored but one goal for them in the Welsh Cup against Carmarthen Town, and played his last game on 20 February 2007: Cardiff v WBA.

Since retirement he has owned a record label, appeared on Sky Sports and Premier League TV stations in Asia,  and run a security company.

Overall for Arsenal he played 124 league games, made 42 appearances as sub, and scored 46 goals.   Although he never hit the absolute heights for Arsenal, he’ll always be remembered (at least in the Arsenal History Society) for his work in helping us to the title in the 1990/1 season.

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3 Replies to “Kevin Campbell: from football to security”

  1. Sulphur I have no idea what this or your other comment means, so I’ve just put one up. I’m away for a few days now, so won’t be able to put any more up.

  2. We watched a lot of lives games at Highbury during through 92-94 and we constantly got on Campbell’s back. With the benefit of hindsight though we were maybe a bit harsh given that compared to Ian Wright at that time, anyone would have struggled to come up to his unbelievable standards. I seem to recall one particular mid-week game vs Norwich (a cup replay, maybe?) where it seemed like the entire crowd were on Campbell’s case, Wrighty scored an unbelievable equalizer in the dying embers of the game and then seemed to celebrate to us fans as if by saying ‘up yours, that’s for my mate, get off his back’. I was glad that he found his mark later at Everton.

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