Sol Campbell makes England captaincy race allegation

Sol Campbell has claimed he would have been "England captain for more than 10 years" had he been white.

The former England defender makes the claims in an authorised biography serialised by the Sunday Times. 

"I believe if I was white, I would have been England captain for more than 10 years - it's as simple as that," said the 39-year-old, who won 73 full caps, including three as captain.

The Football Association is aware of the claims but declined to comment.

Analysis

"I think the FA has to respond to this. We've got a lot of young black players coming into the game. Yes, there aren't enough as coaches, managers or in the administration side - that is an issue.

"But we have had black captains and this is dragging us back through a bridge we have already crossed, although we still need to look into it."

Campbell, who made 646 senior appearances for Tottenham, Arsenal, Portsmouth, Notts County and Newcastle United before retiring in 2012, claimed: "I think the FA wished I was white. I had the credibility, performance-wise, to be captain.

"I was consistently in the heart of the defence and I was a club captain early in my career."

He added: "I don't think it will change because they don't want it to and probably the majority of fans don't want it either.

"It's alright to have black captains and mixed race in the Under-18s and Under-21s but not for the full national side - there is a ceiling and although no-one has ever said it, I believe it's made of glass."

Campbell's three games as England captain were in three friendlies - against Belgium and the Czech Republic in 1998 under Glenn Hoddle's management, and against the United States in 2005 when Sven-Goran Eriksson was in charge.

The England captains during the centre-back's international career were David Platt, Tony Adams, Alan Shearer, Paul Ince, Stuart Pearce, David Seaman, Martin Keown, David Beckham, Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and John Terry.

Ince became the first black player to captain England in 1993.

"Owen was a fantastic forward but nowhere near being a captain," said Campbell. "It was embarrassing. I kept asking myself, 'what have I done?'

"[Michael] Owen was a fantastic forward but nowhere near being a captain."

Sol Campbell

"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 various managers, both permanently and on a temporary basis, in charge of England during Campbell's playing days for the national team between May 1996 and November 2007 were Terry Venables, Hoddle, Howard Wilkinson, Kevin Keegan, Peter Taylor, Eriksson and Steve McClaren.

Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright believes Campbell may have been overlooked as captain because of his quiet personality compared to more vocal candidates like Shearer and Terry.

"I think he's got the credentials to be captain, but to be be captain for 10 years? I'm not sure when you see some of the players that were around then," said Wright on BBC 5 Live's 606 programme.

He added: "I want a captain that goes in and gets you going. Sol has never had the demeanour where he is aggressive on the pitch and put people in their place.

People say David Beckham wasn't like that, but he only had to raise his eyebrows to put someone in their place. Maybe Sol could have grown into it but it's down to the manager who he wants.

"Sol was more than good enough to be a captain but I personally believe there were better candidates at the time."

Former FA executive director David Davies says the responsibility of selecting the England captain lay with the manager of the team at the time, rather than English football's governing body.

"I was a great fan of Sol Campbell as a player and a person. He made a huge contribution to the England team," Davies told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek programme.

"I am perplexed by this because the reality is the England coach in my time selected the captain.

Sol Campbell's life in football

  • Born: 18 September 1974
  • Tottenham: Sept 1992 - Jul 2001, 315 games
  • Arsenal: Jul 2001 - Aug 2006, 197 games
  • Portsmouth: Aug 2006 - Jul 2009, 111 games
  • Notts County: Jul-Sep 2009, 1 game
  • Arsenal: Jan 2010 - Jul 2010, 14 games
  • Newcastle: Jul 2010 - May 2011, 8 games
  • England: May 1996 - Nov 2007, 73 games

"He clearly is upset about that time and perhaps feels he should have been more seriously considered.

"The reality is Tony Adams was made captain by Terry Venables when most people expected David Platt to be captain.

"I wasn't surprised when Tony Adams was made captain or when David Beckham was made captain first by Peter Taylor, and then Sven-Goran Eriksson."

Martin Keown played alongside Campbell for Arsenal and England. He thinks his former team-mate could have aired his views in a less controversial manner.

"I'm disappointed," he told BBC MOTD2 Extra. "I know Sol very well. He is a good friend of mine and we shared a dressing room for many years.

"Yes, he was deserving of being England captain probably more often but I understand why he wasn't.

"In terms of David Beckham, he was almost like a global brand. Michael Owen was assured of his place for probably the next 10 years so when those decisions were made that would have come into it.

"I think Sol could have gone about this in a different way. If he genuinely feels that way then we have to respect his view but I feel he could have done something on the inside and talked to people. I don't know if we need this sensationalism."

He added: "I think the FA has to respond to this. We've got a lot of young black players coming into the game. Yes, there aren't enough as coaches, managers or in the administration side - that is an issue.

"But we have had black captains and this is dragging us back through a bridge we have already crossed, although we still need to look into it."