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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul, 8, 2006

England defender Campbell quits Arsenal

Sol Campbell has left Arsenal in search of a 'fresh challenge'.

The 31-year-old England defender, who has been linked with Portsmouth and Fenerbahce, has quit the Gunners with a year remaining on his contract.

After making a controversial Bosman transfer from north London rivals Tottenham, Campbell made 197 appearances for Arsenal and helped them win the Premiership title in 2002 and 2004.

Campbell said: 'After much consideration, I have taken the decision to leave Arsenal.'

Campbell, who was a key member of the Gunners team which remained unbeaten in the league on their way to the 2004 title, also helped Arsene Wenger's side lift the FA Cup in 2002, 2003 and 2005.

He said: 'I have spent five fantastic, trophy-filled seasons at the club, with many truly memorable moments, including winning the Premiership title in 2004 by remaining unbeaten for the entire campaign.

'So, it is with a sense of pride, achievement and the desire for a fresh challenge that I depart. Playing abroad is something that would really interest me but at the moment I am keeping all of my options open.

'I would like to thank: Arshne Wenger for everything he has done for me; the world-class players that I have been privileged to play alongside and accomplish so much; everyone behind the scenes, from the directors to the staff and lastly but by no means least, to the fans. You have been a constant source of warm-spirited support for which I am truly grateful.

'I'd like to thank everyone associated with the club for the wonderful memories and wish the team the best of luck in the future.'

Campbell has played in the last six major international tournaments for his country, although he was a reserve for first-choice centre-half pairing Rio Ferdinand and John Terry at this summer's World Cup finals in Germany, which England exited at the quarter-final stage.

He was selected despite a difficult season which was marred by injury and off-field problems. He walked out of February's match against West Ham at Highbury at half-time and then went missing for several days.

The powerful defender broke his nose on his return to action 10 weeks later at Portsmouth but returned to help the Gunners reach the Champions League final in a goalless draw at Villarreal. He opened the scoring in the final against Barcelona in May but Wenger's side eventually lost 2-1.

Wenger said: 'Sol has been a giant for us since his arrival in 2001. His desire and presence have been instrumental to our success over the past five years, but we respect his decision to move on and of course, we are very sorry to see him go.

'Sol was at the heart of our defence and he will take away with him many fantastic memories, which he richly deserves.

'Winning two Premiership titles, three FA Cups and scoring in the Champions League final against Barcelona will surely be highlights he will treasure.

'He also excelled for England, playing in six consecutive international tournaments since 1998, three of which were during his time at Arsenal.

'Indeed Sol's international record is outstanding. He was named in the official All Star Team of the Tournament for the World Cup in 2002 as well as Euro 2004 - accolades that very few share.

'I would like to thank Sol for his tremendous contribution. His commitment, stature and strength of character have served us remarkably well, both individually and as a team player who captained the side.

'I know that the younger players, who have progressed here over recent times, have benefited hugely from playing alongside Sol. Everyone at the club wishes Sol all the best for the future.'

Campbell has played 69 times for England.

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