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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 11, 2006

Campbell ready for new start at Pompey

Sol Campbell is ready to kick off his new career with Portsmouth in a specially-arranged friendly next week and insists: 'I'm still ambitious and I've come to a special club.'

Despite being linked with moves to Italy, France, Newcastle and Manchester City after Arsenal agreed to pay up the remainder of his £80,000-a-week contract at the end of last season, the 31-year-old England defender has resurfaced at Pompey on a two-year deal.

After just three days' training with the south coast club he took no part in last night's 2-1 defeat by 2004 European champions Porto, apart from being introduced to Fratton Park fans before the start.

But he is aiming to be ready for the Premiership opener at home to Blackburn a week on Saturday and said: 'They are arranging a game for me some time next week and, hopefully, I'll be available for the Blackburn game.'

Campbell will probably face a local non-league side and ease himself back into action following his last appearance as a substitute for England in the World Cup finals against Sweden.

But the man who scored Arsenal's goal in their 2-1 defeat by Barcelona in the Champions League final in May is convinced there are many more big games ahead - with Pompey.

He denied breaking a gentleman's agreement with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger that he would continue his career abroad and said: 'That was the situation I was looking at. It would have been fantastic, but none of the situations were concrete or the right move for me.

'So I was left with the option of finding another club at home or sitting around doing nothing, just twiddling my thumbs.

'I didn't go back on my word (to Wenger). It is just that nothing materialised abroad. Who knows? I might still get to play abroad in a few years' time.'

He added, 'I knew Portsmouth wanted me from the start and I'm delighted to come here. It is a special club, an ambitious club. The guys here want to move forward with it.

'I know they are planning to sign some more top players and if we can get the right ones with the right attitude I can see us challenging for a place in Europe.'

Pompey manager Harry Redknapp has signed just three new players so far this summer - Campbell, on-loan Glen Johnson from Chelsea and free transfer David Thompson - despite a major influx of cash from new owner Alexandre Gaydamak.

But he is also on the verge of recruiting Manchester City's England goalkeeper David James after Pompey agreed a fee of around £1.2million plus add-ons with City boss Stuart Pearce.

Redknapp said: 'Sol's signing is a statement by the club of where we are aiming to go. Sol is part of that. I've known him for years and he is an outstanding player, a great signing.'

Svetoslav Todorov equalised for Pompey against their Portuguese vistors with a 23rd-minute diving header but Noe Pamarot's poor clearance let in Lisandro (12) and a deflection off Linvoy Primus that helped in Marek Cech's 57th-minute winner showed how much Pompey could do with Campbell in defence.

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