Sol Campbell has moved to clarify his contentious suggestions that he would have been England captain for 10 years if he were white.
Campbell’s comments (from extracts of his new book) attracted huge headlines when they were first published, with senior British Member of Parliament Keith Vaz urging the government to look into Campbell’s claims that he was denied the chance to lead his country during a period when David Beckham and Michael Owen tended to be ahead of him in the queue to wear the national team’s armband.
Yet in an interview with the Evening Standard, Campbell has suggested his views were exaggerated in some reports, even though he remains convinced that his hopes of leading England were harmed by the colour of his skin.
“I said, within my 10-year career, I should have captained an England side many more times than I did,” he stated. “People took the 10-year thing too literally, read too much into it and were too quick to comment on it.”
When asked whether he regretted bringing race into the issue of the England captaincy, he was quick to give this response: “No. I’ve got it right. If I was white, my chances of captaining England would have been definitely enhanced.
“Look at it this way. Take an African country which has a kid who’s white. He grows up to be a wonderful player and wants to be captain. I can understand it might not sit easy with the majority black people.”
Campbell previously stated that he was disappointed to find himself behind striker Michael Owen in the England captain stakes and he reiterated those opinions in his latest interview, while also insisting he had what it took to lead his country.
“Michael was a fantastic player, a great centre-forward, but captain material,” he questioned. “I captained most of my clubs. I totally understand there are different characters. I was very vocal on the pitch and, as captain, that is how I wanted people to see me.
“Michael Owen was quiet off and on the pitch. I just couldn’t understand. Obviously his face fitted more than mine. It’s as simple as that.
“My character was spot on. My first season [after joining Arsenal from Tottenham] I won the Double, which was incredible. I was under extreme pressure to win and everybody was doing a lot to stop me from winning, by writing, ‘He’s not playing well. He’s not doing this. He’s not doing that’.
“So, with all the c--- flying around, it took a lot to concentrate and focus. There are not a lot of people who could take that pressure and win. If I can get through that, I can get through most things. That’s character. Doesn’t that show captaincy [qualities]?”