Tottenham still can't bury Campbell vitriol

LONDON • Sol Campbell will be a notable absentee from the parade of former Tottenham Hotspur players and managers that will take place after the final Premier League match at White Hart Lane this month.

The former Tottenham captain has not been invited back to the ground where he began his professional career, with the club concerned that a day of celebration on May 14, when they face Manchester United in their last home match of the season, could be overshadowed by a backlash from fans.

They regard Campbell as a hate figure after his decision to join Arsenal, their north London rivals, on a free transfer in 2001.

Campbell is not the only prominent figure from Tottenham's recent history to be overlooked.

The past two managers to have won trophies for the club, Juande Ramos and George Graham, have also failed to secure invitations.

Ramos won the League Cup with victory over Chelsea in his first season in charge in 2008, while Graham was manager when Tottenham won the same trophy nine years earlier in a side captained by Campbell. Graham has also been ignored because of his association with Arsenal.

Tottenham's selective approach to marking their departure from White Hart Lane is very different to that of West Ham United, who invited every living former player and numerous celebrity fans onto the pitch in a closing ceremony that lasted 45 minutes when they left Upton Park 12 months ago.

Tottenham have invited only 80 former players to take part in a legends' parade, with only five of their managers from the past 30 years due to attend the match against United.

Former Spurs managers David Pleat, Terry Venables, Glenn Hoddle, Martin Jol and Harry Redknapp are expected to turn out.

Campbell came through Tottenham's academy, having started his youth career with West Ham, and made 315 appearances for the club, including captaining them to their League Cup final victory over Leicester City in 1999, before joining Arsenal two years later.

The strength of ill feeling towards him at Tottenham is reflected in a number of offensive songs that are sung about him by supporters. A profile of the former England defender on Tottenham's official website concludes that he will "never be forgiven" for crossing north London.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2017, with the headline 'Tottenham still can't bury Campbell vitriol'. Print Edition | Subscribe