SOL CAMPBELL is still getting stick over his seismic switch from Tottenham to Arsenal — 17 YEARS later.
The former England defender, 44, was branded a Judas by Spurs fans when he completed his 2001 transfer across North London.
Eva Prendergast, Ming Kit Wong & Harry Stonebridge/ The Cambridge Union5 Sol Campbell told SunSport's Dan King about the abuse he still gets from Tottenham fans
He knows some will never forgive him but he was shocked when he was confronted over the move at a Cambridge Union talk last week.
When a 21-year-old student said a Spurs-supporting friend regarded the defection as the most traumatic experience of his childhood, Campbell said: “I’d understand it more if it was someone who was 40, 50, or 60.
“But someone who’s 20, that’s perplexing, overly dramatic. He would have been in a cot at the time.
“People like to stoke it up whenever there’s a derby.” The move made Campbell a Spurs villain, but a Gunners hero as he completed the Double in his first season at Highbury.
Times Newspapers Ltd5 Sol Campbell Arsenal
PA:Press Association5 Sol Campbell Arsenal
He won two Premier League titles and two FA Cups in five years at Arsenal and was part of Arsene Wenger’s unbeaten Invincibles.
He added: “I was hungry for success and despondent with the lack of progression at Tottenham.
“I wanted to win. And I did. It hurt a lot of people along the way.
“Some people will forgive me, some people won’t. But who’s liked by everyone in the world?
“It’s such a long time ago. Will we still be talking about it 10 years from now? Hopefully not.
“Tottenham have a fantastic side now, a new stadium. Why look at the past?”
Whatever happens today, neither will win title
SOL CAMPBELL says his old clubs Spurs and Arsenal have already surrendered the title.
The two bitter rivals clash at the Emirates this afternoon.
And Campbell warned: “The trouble with where Spurs and Arsenal are now, is that things have changed. The two dominant teams are Manchester City and Liverpool.
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Campbell, nursing a pint of stout, also said he was encouraged by the start made by Unai Emery at Arsenal and pleased to see him tackling the defensive issues that dogged Wenger’s later years.
He said: “They have brought back some confidence in the club as well as in the team. They feel more solid, more together.
“They were always good going forward but it was the defensive situation that was questionable.
“He’s organised them and cleaned that up a bit and they have responded to that.”
Wenger’s mistake, Campbell said, had been moving away from having experienced defenders to school the next generation.
Wenger inherited a strong back five from Bruce Rioch and Campbell said: “We did bits of defensive work, not day in, day out.
“Arsene had ready-made players. When he brought players in, he had players who could teach them.
NEIL ASHTON Campbell deserves praise for taking Macclesfield when Gerrard and Lampard had it easier
Reuters5 Campbell has agreed an 18-month contract with Macclesfield
Eva Prendergast, Ming Kit Wong & Harry Stonebridge/ The Cambridge Union5 Sol Campbell
“Once some of those players left, it was young players learning off young players.”
Campbell was at Arsenal from 2001-06, returning in 2010 for a brief second spell under Wenger.
He told the students that winning the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008 was up with his greatest achievements, including the Invincibles season of 2003-04.
But Campbell knows it is his days in North London which inspire the strongest passions. He wisely swerved a question about whether he would rather play for Spurs or Arsenal now.
And he sees today’s clash at the Emirates as a staging post for both clubs as they try to bridge the gap to the champions Manchester City and closest challengers Liverpool.
Campbell said: “I don’t think it’s significant in terms of who is going to win the Premier League.
“I think that’s about two other clubs.”