Fallen Tottenham idol Sol Campbell is on the wrong side after night to forget

15 April 2010 01:30

They called him'Judas'. The fallenidol who had thegall to move acrossnorth London tojoin their hated rivals. Ona free transfer, no less.

It was nearly nine years agothat Sol Campbell saw out hiscontract with Tottenham andjoined Arsenal. He had made315 appearances in nine yearsat Spurs and had just the 1999League Cup final to show for it.

In five years at Arsenal, Campbellwon the Premier Leaguetitle twice and lifted the FA Cupthree times. Perhaps that wasmost galling of all.

Abuse: Tottenham Hotspur fans berate Sol Campbell

Few Tottenham fans wouldhave expected Campbell to beback in an Arsenal shirt after heleft Highbury in 2006.

But, afterthree years at Portsmouth anda dalliance with Notts County,he visited White Hart Lane lastnight with an Arsenal side gunningfor the title.Spurs also have PremierLeague ambitions, for fourthspot and Champions Leaguequalification.

That may explainCampbell's reception: his presenceadded spice, but the fightfor points provided the mainingredients.When Campbell first returnedto White Hart Lane in November2001, Tottenham fansvented at the former captainthey had adored, throwingbricks at the Arsenal team busin Bill Nicholson Way.

Last night, Arsenal's bus droveinto White Hart Lane to just ahealthy chorus of chants.Resentment was no longerfocused on one man. 

Night to forget: Sol Campbell

As Campbell's name was readout, the boos got louder, but itwas pantomime, as his first pass,from deep in his own half, wasintercepted by Tom Huddlestone.The laughter stopped a minutelater. 

Campbell jogged into Tottenham'spenalty area, forcingBenoit Assou-Ekotto to clearoff the line with an attemptedvolley from a Samir Nasri cornerthat cannoned off his left knee.He didn't have the nerve toscore, did he?

Not quite, but heused all his 6ft 2in to beat twoSpurs players and nod a Nasrifree-kick back to Tomas Rosickyafter 34 minutes.The atmosphere crackled, risingin tempo when Campbellwent into action.

A well-timedtackle snuffed out the danger ofa Gareth Bale charge down theleft, a gentle shove in JermainDefoe's back and a long-leggedswing got him the ball from hisformer Portsmouth team-mate.

Once he was a Spur: Sol Campbell enjoyed the freedom of White Hart Lane before he crossed the north London divide.

Moving to block Defoe's run atgoal, he sprinted to the left tochallenge Roman Pavlyuchenko.His hands were on his hips whenthe ball was at the other end,but he let the boys in white andblue know he was there.

Yet the 35-year-old could donothing about Danny Rose'ssensational strike for Spurs.Nobody could.The programme stated abusewould not be tolerated andencouraged fans to report badlanguage as Spurs sought toavoid a repeat of their visit toPortsmouth in September 2008,when four men were banned from football matches for threeyears for chanting at Campbell.

Thankfully, the abuse was limitedto a few idiots last night.Fans swarmed from their seatswhen Campbell went to take athrow-in but his defensive partner,Thomas Vermaelen, crumbledfirst.

Campbell did not lookup at the pointing fingers as hewalked towards the dugout.He nearly scored again after84 minutes, powering a headeron to the bar, but could onlylook on as Defoe slipped a passpast him to Bale for Tottenham'ssecond.

Yet Mikael Silvestrewas the more culpabledefender.Campbell's calmness wasimpressive. Whether firinginstructions at Denilson or Silvestreor raising a hand toappeal for offside in the oldArsenal way, he seemed to beplaying from within.

Fourth onthe Premier League's all-timeappearance list behind DavidJames, Ryan Giggs and GarySpeed he did not over-exerthimself on his 492nd outing.

Maybe he hadn't the energy.'Get on the game', read thePremier League's navy bluebanner that greeted the teams.For the most part, they did.

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 Explore more:People:Sol Campbell, Ryan Giggs, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Thomas Vermaelen, Gareth Bale, Danny Rose, Tom HuddlestonePlaces:London

Source: Daily_Mail