Lambeth’s former Arsenal and Everton striker Kevin Campbell dies aged 54

Kevin Campbell, the former Arsenal and Everton striker, has died at the age of 54.

The forward, born in Lambeth, scored 148 goals in 542 career appearances.

Campbell came through the youth ranks with the Gunners and won four major trophies there – the old Division One title, FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup.

He was also part of the Nottingham Forest side that claimed the Football League First Division title in 1998.

Campbell won four England U21 caps and retired from playing in 2007.

He talked about his South London upbringing giving him an advantage on his first loan move away from Arsenal, to Leyton Orient, in 1989.

Campbell said: “I thought right, they’re expecting me to be some soft kid, who’s not going to muck in, who’s used to having his kit washed, who’s used to having all the creature comforts. But I’m a kid from Brixton, I can rough it with the best of them.

“The first training session I played against John Sitton and Keith Day, and we had an absolutely titanic battle. But after training they put their arm around me and said: “You’ll do for us.

“That for me was a big tick in the box, when experienced players say that to me at 18, that means something.”

Arsenal have issued a statement. The north London club said: “We are devastated to learn that our former striker Kevin Campbell has died after a short illness.

“Kevin was adored by everyone at the club. All of us are thinking of his friends and family at this difficult time. Rest in peace, Kevin.”

Southwark-born Nigel Quashie, who played more than 400 senior matches, paid tribute to Campbell on social media platform X.

“Growing up you along with many footballers who made it out of South London gave me hope of trying to be a footballer one day,” said Quashie.

“I signed for WBA and the next day I was given the opportunity to go on a team trip to Dubai. Once arrived at the hotel I got my room key in reception and asked who I was sharing with and they said Kevin Campbell.

“All I could think about walking to the room was I’m sharing with Kevin Campbell. What a player and career who was well respected in the game. You even gave me my nickname in football. I walked in the door of the room and all I hear is Ninja that you, Ninja how you doing ? You said I’ve been at an airport, checked in, gone through customs, got on the plane, arrived in Dubai and not been around you until you walk in this room, how’s that possible and you even walk in here quietly and then said I thought the deal fell through!

“You never called me by my first name again to this day. Stories, Banter, Leadership, Always Positive, Genuine & The list Could Go ON & ON……. You knew how to light up a room also get a smile out of people on and off the pitch.

“I’m just glad I got the opportunity to smile around you, train and play with somebody I looked up to from being a kid. We Have Lost A Special Person Today Who Will Be Truly Missed. Sleep Well King Kev.”

Former West Ham forward Tony Cottee, on X, posted: “Am so devastated to hear the news of the passing of Kevin Campbell The nicest man you could wish to meet and a fantastic player. Thoughts to his friends and family…. RIP Kev.”

Ex-Forest player Pierre van Hooijdonk posted: “Devastated to hear the news of the death of my former strike partner and friend Kevin Campbell. It was a pleasure to play alongside you Big Kev and thanks for the laugh. RIP.”

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