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Book Review: Sol Campbell – The Authorised Biography

| 23.11.2014

One of the greatest defenders to have pulled on the England jersey, Sol Campbell pulls absolutely no punches when it comes to saying what he feels.

And as his move from Tottenham to bitter north London rivals Arsenal highlighted, the former Three Lions centre-back is also not afraid to do what he thinks is right.

This is a theme which runs throughout Sol Campbell, The Authorised Biography by Simon Astaire.

And while Campbell’s book may not appeal to Tottenham supporters, Oliver Yew is here to give Ladbrokes News readers the lowdown on what can be expected from this book and whether it should appear on your Christmas list…

In a nut shell

The former Arsenal and England defender opens up about his upbringing on the streets of east London and gives his side of the story on a career that saw him leave Tottenham for bitter rivals Arsenal and play 73 times for his country. From highs such as scoring in a Champions League final to playing at the World Cup finals and lows such leaving Highbury at half-time during a match for the Gunners against West Ham, everything is laid bare.

What the publishers say

Sol Campbell traces his journey from the streets of east London, the FA School of Excellence and as a millionaire footballer for Tottenham and Arsenal, through Champions League and World Cups, to widespread acclaim as one of the finest defenders to have worn the England shirt.

Along the way, he was labelled a traitor and ostracised by his peers, fell out with members of his family, suffered racial and homophobic abuse, and was often misunderstood by those who claimed to know him well. This book is a frank and often blistering account of a life lived between the soaring heights of celebrity football and the despairing depths of personal trauma.

What we say

For all of the hot-air that surrounds the life and playing career of Sol Campbell, this book does put the record straight on a number of issues. While some of these have gained high-profile media attention, ultimately the author tells the story of a boy who faced a difficult childhood but fulfilled his dream of just wanting to play football.

Campbell is a complicated character and that comes across in the book with the pains of troubled relationships with his father and brother constant themes.

But this account of his life and his playing career is a huge reminder as to what a player he was and the huge success he has achieved alongside the pressures placed on such a person at this level of sport.

Author Simon Astaire captures this perfectly and deserves huge credit for capturing this brilliantly throughout.

3 things we learned from Sol Campbell – The Authorised Biography

Campbell’s face did not fit at the FA!

Campbell is adamant the colour of his skin stopped him from becoming England captain. The former Arsenal man could not believe it when Michael Owen was handed the skipper’s armband before him.

“I’ll say it again. I don’t fit the FA’s image of an England captain. I’d done enough to be captain. I’ve asked myself many times why I wasn’t. I keep coming up with the same answer. It was the colour of my skin.”

Strong claims indeed but Sol is never afraid to tackle the big issues.

French toast is the way to Sol’s heart!

If only Tottenham had offered Campbell a plate of French toast at 3am then the 40-year-old could have been lifting trophies at White Hart Lane rather than Highbury! That’s exactly what happened as David Dein and Arsene Wenger met with the defender for the final time before he agreed to join the Gunners. Dein’s son Gavin strolled in from a night out in the early hours to find these negotiations going on and went on to make himself and Campbell French toast. All jokes aside this gesture made the England star feel right at home and that warmth was a small part of the decision that saw him join Spurs’ bitter rivals on a free transfer.

“David Dein made me feel protected. He was going to help and promised to be there for me,’ Sol recalls. ‘Come to us, he said, and you will be part of our family. We will protect you.’ He couldn’t have said anything better.”

The rest, as they say, in history!

Forget the oranges! Cigarettes and Espresso at half-time bring out the French flair!

There are not too many funny recollections in this autobiography but this one stands out and it comes from the centre-backs time as captain of Tottenham. Campbell is desperate for the toilet at the half-time break during a match at White Hart Lane when he hears movement and sees smoke rising. Campbell recognises the boots and knows straight away David Ginola is getting his fix at half-time.

There’s more though to Ginola’s half-time diet and as Campbell returns to the dressing room, the Frenchman is not sipping on a Lucozade but is gulping down an espresso. On finishing his half-time refreshment he gets up, sighs ‘Aaaahh’ and sprints onto the field with renewed vigour for the second-half.

“Whatever it takes…If he keeps playing like he has this season, who cares how he spends his half-time?” is Sol’s assessment.

Who’s the book for?

To be honest this book would make a fascinating read for all football fans but I can understand why Tottenham fans would give it a wide berth. Despite that, this book gives us a brilliant insight into a millionaire footballer and the pressures that come with such a career. Campbell is clearly a troubled soul and not afraid to speak up in what he believes in but this book is also a testament as to how successful a player he was for Tottenham, Arsenal, Portsmouth and England. Certainly for those residing in the red-half of north London, this is a must-read!

To buy your copy of Sol Campbell – The Authorised Biography click here.

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Oliver Yew