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92nd minute in the North London Derby. Gareth Bale, the 21-year-old Welsh was got the ball on the left and immediately headed towards the corner flag. Within seconds, Sol Campbell and with all of his 35-years-old frame with him, was first to the scene. For a man his age, playing in his 10th game at the highest level and in the dying minutes of the derby, still caught up with the youngster and eventually managed to shepherd out the ball for a goal kick.
That cameo right at the death of the game epitomizes the kind of player that all fans love. Sol Campbell knew just how much that game meant to us fans as well as to him. He knew that no matter what, this was a not a game that Arsenal could lose, with or without the championship in mind. He knew that there is a proud record of 11 years to be uphold. Sadly, apart from him, there were not many in the red shirt that night who realise just how special it was to be involve in that game. Never before has the desire and passion of one man, one player, shone so bright.
When Wenger signed him in January, we all thought he was going to be just a backup for the first choice pairing of Vermaelen and Gallas. We all thought that if either was missing, Campbell would get to play and would struggle to cope with the pace of the highest level once again. We could not be more wrong. He has shone like a beacon in each and every match that he has appeared for Arsenal since. While admittedly, lacking the durability to last more than 1 game a week, Campbell never lacked spirit.
I think we need more of this sort of player in our squad. His experience and nous, in terms of how to approach a game and how to raise spirits when things are not going well for us on the pitch is invaluable. The young ones currently in the squad like Denilson, Diaby, Walcott, Bendtner and Vela will certainly learn more about football with him around. Not in terms of technical ability perhaps but the heart or desire to do well. Heads dropped when Spurs took the lead in the 10th minute of the first half. Not Campbell. He was an inspiring figure and did his best to rally the troops.
When we went for the jugular in the second half in search of the equaliser, there were a couple of occasions when Spurs broke and looked to have man advantage in the counter attack. Who was there to stop them but Sol Campbell. He was defiant, he was giant, a colossus who just did not want to get beaten. It was an incredible feat for Campbell who showed he still has what it takes to do a job for Arsenal when others simply did not turned up.
Arsenal certainly have improved as a team but we still lacked a couple of wise heads and real leaders on pitch. A day when the stand-in captain was culpable for conceding the first goal, the real captain showed why he was revered on both divides of North London. Now, there’s someone to look up to for the young guns.