Sven-Goran Eriksson says there is “not a chance” Sol Campbell was overlooked for the England captaincy because of his skin colour during the Swede’s spell as Three Lions manager.
The 39-year-old former defender made claims in his authorised biography that the Football Association is institutionally racist, suggesting the FA “didn’t want me to have a voice.”
The former Tottenham and Arsenal centre-back believes he could have been the national captain for “more than 10 years” if he was white, but Eriksson -- who selected Campbell 32 times -- denies he ever discussed the captaincy with the FA.
“Not a chance -- during my years, not a chance,” Eriksson is reported as saying by the Daily Telegraph. “As you know, from my first to my last game, I had David Beckham [as captain] and there were never, ever any discussions at all in the team or in the FA about the captain.”
Campbell took on the England armband three times during his 73 caps, and in his book – serialised in the Sunday Times – he suggests that the only reason Michael Owen was selected ahead of him to stand in as captain for Beckham was down to race.
“Owen was a fantastic forward but nowhere near being a captain, Campbell said.
“It was embarrassing. I kept asking myself, ‘What have I done?’ “I’ve asked myself many times why I wasn’t [made captain]. I keep coming up with the same answer. It was the colour of my skin.
“The FA wished I was white. I had the credibility, performance-wise, to be captain. I was consistently in the heart of the defence [for England] and I was a club captain early in my career.”
Eriksson, however, claims that Campbell never complained to him about the situation, and believes Beckham proved he had the “talent and personality” to lead the Three Lions.
Former England defender and under-21 manager Stuart Pearce has also expressed his surprise, telling talkSPORT: "I find it a very unusual statement but it’s obviously something Sol believes.
"I wouldn’t believe for one moment he was ever denied the captaincy of England because of the colour of his skin. I find that incredible. Paul Ince was captain of England and that didn’t hold him back in any way, shape or form.
"It’s sad that he thinks that. I personally, in my wildest dreams, wouldn’t believe that would ever hold you back from captaining England in this day and age."
And former Three Lions midfielder John Barnes also disagrees with Campbell’s claims, stating each player picked ahead of Campbell as captain was done so on merit.
“Whatever Sol’s frustrations may have been, the England captains he played under were worthy choices and deserved to lead their country,” he told the Daily Mirror.
“He played under Tony Adams at Arsenal, Alan Shearer was at the peak of his powers when he was appointed England captain, and we all know that David Beckham brought more to the armband than football.
“To promote the image of English football, there may have been political and marketing reasons for making Beckham captain, but colour had nothing to do with any of them in a way detrimental to Sol’s career.”