Selling his Sol… for £10 million
HE has 73 caps but said ‘yes’ to the fourth tier of English soccer.
Sol Campbell sacrificed his Premier League soul for a £10million payday as ambitious Notts County this week pulled off their second jaw-dropping signing of the transfer window.
The former England centre back, 34, shunned top-flight suitors to commit to Sven Goran Eriksson’s team for the next five years in an unprecedented move by the League Two club.
Campbell’s estimated £40,000a-week wage may have been less than half the sum he pocketed at Portsmouth last season, but the length of the contract answered any outstanding issues as to why he completed the switch.
The size of the deal – allied to the persistence of director of football Eriksson – eventually persuaded Campbell he could stomach the drop in standard.
The £2m-a-year salary makes him comfortably the highest earner outside the top flight, barring those players at Championship clubs who dropped out of the Premier League last season.
By contrast, some of Camp- bell’s colleagues in the County dressing room are taking home little more than £500 a week.
Campbell said: “At first, I thought it was one of those radio wind-ups when Sven called. But then he started talking and saying a few things. As time went on I started to relax about it.
“It still took quite a few weeks to decide. He didn’t phone me up every day but he did every three or four. He was chipping away at me. There were other offers but they were all ifs and buts, not really proper, all short term.
“For me, it was a trade-off. There were other teams inter- ested from the top flight. But this here is the long term. The other stuff may be short and prestigious but I’m looking for my career. It doesn’t matter where you are, you can play and do nothing else at Premier clubs.
“This gives me a lot of opportunities – to play as long as possible, three or four years. Maybe the last year looking at the player-coach side.
“Of course it’s going to be different. But I don’t mind starting again. And I don’t think it’s really starting again here because they’re a great club with great tradition. Leaguewise it is dropping down but we’ve got ambitions to move up and we will.
“You’d be shocked. Some of the Premier League clubs are all over the place behind the scenes. Not all them are well oiled machines. This will be a well-oiled machine.”
Asked whether Spurs had wanted him back, Campbell added: “Well ... the chairman ... there were other considerations.” One of them, clearly, was not the opinion of manager Harry Redknapp, who still believes the defender can cut it among the elite.
COLOUR OF MONEY: Sol Campbell shows off his new livery with Notts County manager Ian McFarland.