THE DAY DAVID TOOK ON GO­LIATH!

Film re­calls when For­est’s Camp­bell faced the boys from Brazil in 86

The Football League Paper - - NEIL MELLOR - By John Lyons

IF YOU had the chance to make your full in­ter­na­tional de­but against any op­po­si­tion in any tour­na­ment, chances are that Brazil in the World Cup would be some­where near the top of your list.

Well, David Camp­bell ac­tu­ally did it just ten days af­ter turn­ing 21 in 1986 – not a bad be­lated birth­day present.

The mid­fielder went from be­ing a vir­tual un­known at Not­ting­ham For­est to play­ing against the Samba stars on the big­gest stage of them all – and now his amaz­ing story has in­spired a film.

The gala pre­miere of ‘Shoot­ing for Socrates’ takes place at the Belfast Film Fes­ti­val on Fri­day. The World Cup will be present on the big night as well as most of the North­ern Ire­land squad of ’86.

Gate­crash

It’s a far cry from early in the World Cup year when Camp­bell was try­ing to make his mark un­der the leg­endary Brian Clough at For­est – and gate­crash Billy Bing­ham’s squad for Mex­ico.

He re­called:“Martin O’Neill got in­jured and there was one place left in the 22. Billy Bing­ham came to watch me against Ar­se­nal and Manch­ester City and I scored.

“Then I got called up for North­ern Ire­land for the last friendly at home be­fore the World Cup against Morocco. I was play­ing for For­est against Wat­ford on the Mon­day and the North­ern Ire­land game was just two days later on the Wed­nes­day.

“North­ern Ire­land’s John McClel­land was play­ing for Wat­ford and I was up against him. He kicked lumps out of me all night!

“Cloughie said ‘Well done, you can go now’. Then Billy Bing­ham put me on as sub against Morocco for 30 min­utes and I had a stormer.

“I was shat­tered af­ter­wards, but I felt a lot bet­ter when I spoke to Billy. He said they were hav­ing a photo-call and record­ing the song for Mex­ico ’86 the fol­low­ing day – he said, ‘Why don’t you come along?’”

Dream

It was a few weeks later when Camp­bell got the of­fi­cial call from Bing­ham to say he was in the squad, but even then he thought it was his pals back home wind­ing him up.

Camp­bell sat out North­ern Ire­land’s open­ing two games against Al­ge­ria (drawn 1-1) and Spain (a 2-1 de­feat), but then got the nod for the big­gest match of all – against Brazil in Guadala­jara.

Brazil had the likes of Socrates, Muller, Careca, Branco and Ju­nior in their ranks – and Zico came off the bench! As it is, the favourites tri­umphed 3-0 with goals from Careca (two) and Josi­mar.

But Camp­bell said: “It’s ev­ery boy’s dream to play for their coun­try and it doesn’t get much bet­ter than mak­ing your full de­but against the best team in the world.

“I was op­po­site Socrates in the tun­nel be­fore the game. He looked across and must have known it was my de­but. He reached for my hand and said, ‘Good luck’. My arse was go­ing al­ready.

“Sun­light was shin­ing down the tun­nel and we walked up the steps into a caul­dron of noise. It was like some­thing out of Glad­i­a­tor. There was the heat and altitude, the Brazil­ians looked im­pres­sive in their gold shirts and there we were, white-faced, pasty lads. You can’t breathe and you’re think­ing, ‘How are we go­ing to face them’.

“I was play­ing right-wing and Jimmy Ni­chol was be­hind me. I asked him how we were go­ing to play it, if he was go­ing to get up in sup­port and he just said,‘ I don’t think I’ll be do­ing much over­lap­ping!’

“It was Pat Jen­nings’ last-ever match and he turned round to me af­ter­wards and said,‘ It’s all down­hill from here, it doesn’t get any bet­ter than this’. I was at For­est and thought I had the world at my feet, but what true words they were.”

On his re­turn to For­est duty af­ter Mex­ico ’86 had ended, Camp­bell was quickly brought down to earth by Clough.

Amaz­ing

He re­called: “I was lucky enough to play for two gods of foot­ball in Billy Bing­ham and Brian Clough. Cloughie was amaz­ing – you couldn’t get big­headed with him around. He al­ways called me ‘Ir­ish’ and in pre-sea­son he said, ‘Ir­ish, con- grat­u­la­tions on play­ing in the World Cup, but don’t be think­ing you’ve cracked it.”

They turned out to be prophetic words be­cause Camp­bell never re­ally hit the same heights af­ter that. He went on to earn ten caps for his coun­try and played for the likes of Charl­ton, Brad­ford and Burn­ley, but a bro­ken leg ul­ti­mately proved too big a blow to fully re­cover from.

“The sur­geon said ini­tially that I wasn’t go­ing to play again, but I did come back,” he said. “The prob­lem was that ev­ery time I got go­ing, I kept break­ing down. I could play, but I didn’t have the strength in my leg and I would be found out.

“In the end it made sense to stop be­cause I had the rest of my life ahead of me. Cloughie had re­tired early and he’d told me to do my coach­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tions. In 1995 I

set up a foot­ball coach­ing busi­ness. There were the trou­bles in North­ern Ire­land and I wanted to help the com­mu­nity. I went to Um­bro and said I have an idea for a coach­ing pro­gramme. I wanted to get the ex-in­ter­na­tion­als in­volved and re­ally have a mas­sive im­pact. Within a year they said ‘can we buy you out?’

Jour­ney

“This year over one mil­lion kids will have at­tended in 20 years. We’ve also trained young peo­ple to be pro­fes­sional coaches. We have peo­ple from Eng­land and Ire­land fly­ing off around the world.”

But it was a jour­ney of his own that sowed the seeds for the un­likely film ven­ture. When he and actress wife Lor­raine went to the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val a few years ago, he got talk­ing to film direc­tor James Ersk­ine on a yacht.

The direc­tor got in­ter­ested in Camp­bell’s foot­ball story and the ball was set in mo­tion for the film, writ­ten by award-win­ning writer Marie Jones, that steps into the spot­light on Fri­day.

Star­ring John Hannah as Billy Bing­ham, it tells the tale of a mo­men­tous time in North­ern Ire­land’s foot­ball his­tory through the eyes of play­ers, fans and the me­dia.

FIFA pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter has given his per­sonal per­mis­sion for the World Cup to be on show at the pre­miere. The hon­our is be­ing made in recog­ni­tion of North­ern Ire­land’s Jim Boyce, FIFA’s vice-pres­i­dent who will con­clude his term in of­fice in June and who will be guest of hon­our at the screen­ing.

Camp­bell is look­ing for­ward to get­ting to­gether with his old team-mates to cel­e­brate their in­cred­i­ble adventure.

The 49-year-old added: “The suc­cess was in the team get­ting there. For such a small coun­try to achieve that in ’82 and ’86 was amaz­ing. I was in­cred­i­bly proud.”

The film is pro­vi­sion­ally set to go on show in UK cine­mas on June 12, 29 years to the day since North­ern Ire­land played Brazil.

TRO­PHY TIME: David Camp­bell with the World Cup and a scene from Shoot­ing for Socrates

PROUD: Camp­bell in his North­ern Ire­land shirt and, right, the team be­fore the Brazil match

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

HARD TO STOP: Socrates at­tempts to get away from North­ern Ire­land’s Ian Ste­wart

ON THE BALL: Camp­bell in his Not­ting­ham For­est days

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