September 21 2014 Latest news:
Mark Shales, Reporter
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Former England footballer Sol Cambpell will return to his Newham roots later this month to sign copies of his latest book.
The ex-Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal defender will be in Newham Bookshop, on Barking Road, Upton Park, on May 21 to promote Sol Campbell: The Authorised Biography by Simon Astaire.
Born in Plaistow and raised in Stratford, the 39-year-old represented his borough for a number of years before joining the youth ranks at West Ham United, and spoke to the Recorder about his local pride.
“Newham means a hell of a lot to me, I look back now and I’m proud to be from there,” he said.
“I first started to play football on the streets and in West Ham Park and enjoyed playing for Newham district for many years.
“I used to ride my BMX bike where the Olympic stadium is now and it’s remarkable to see the transformation, but great to see Newham firmly back on the map.”
A former pupil at Portway Primary and Lister Community schools, children from both will be invited to the event, which will start at 5pm.
Initially serialised in The Sunday Times back in March, his book has already made headlines with claims Campbell would have been England captain for more than 10 years, had he been white.
While heavily criticised by some for his comments, he is glad to be discussing the issue but believes problems still remain within the sport’s hierarchy.
“At first I wasn’t allowed to talk because it was embargoed each week, so I like a punchbag with my hands tied behind my back,” he added.
“When I was finally allowed to talk and explain where I was coming from it allowed people to fully understand.
“Things have moved on, but not far enough and these things have to come from the top.
“They’ve got a duty to be incorporating people from different backgrounds in to some of the big jobs and allow that to trickle down throughout the game.”
Although about a quarter of professionals in the English game are black, last month’s sacking of Chris Hughton at Norwich City took the number of black managers in the top four divisions to zero.
And Campbell believes some attitudes within the game need to change
“When you look at how many black players there are in the divisions, it just doesn’t add up in any capacity,” he explained.
“It takes time but hopefully people can stop looking at colour and instead what they can do as a manager or a coach.
“It’s probably going to take someone winning the league before people actually go ‘Oh, he can actually do the job’ and that it’s not an odd thing for a black manager to be at your club.”
Part of the unbeaten Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ of the 2003/04 season, he enjoyed a decorated career with six different clubs, winning three FA Cup medals and two Premier League titles.
And upon competition of the coaching badges he is currently working towards, Campbell hopes to go one better as a manager and achieve European glory.
“Nothing’s going to get close to playing, but it’s a nice second to be involved in the game at some level.
“I’d like to win everything I’ve not won as a player – that’s my goal.”
For more information on the book signing contact Newham Bookshop on 020 8552 9993 or visit newhambooks.co.uk.