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England veterans rubbish Sol Campbell's racism claim

sports Updated: Mar 03, 2014 22:09 IST
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Former England manager Graham Taylor said Sol Campbell was giving his biography "a good sell" as he rejected the ex centre-back's claims he was not chosen as national team captain because he was black.

"During my time as England manager I never had any influence from the FA (England's governing Football Association) on who should be England captain regarding a player's race," Taylor told the BBC.

"I gave the captaincy to Paul Ince (the black former Manchester United and Liverpool midfielder) and I was never given the impression by the FA that I should not have given it to him," added Taylor, England manager from 1990-1993.

"Sol is making a real go of giving his book a good sell. I cannot go along with what he is saying."

Campbell, one of the leading black English footballers of his generation, claimed he would have been captain of the national side "for more than 10 years" had he been white.

He made the controversial allegations in a new biography, extracts of which were serialised in Britain's Sunday Times last weekend.

The 39-year--old former Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal defender said: "I believe if I was white, I would have been England captain for more than 10 years - it's as simple as that.

"I think the FA (England's governing Football Association) wished I was white. I had the credibility, performance-wise to be captain," added Campbell, who led his country on three occasions.

But other black former England internationals disputed Campbell's contention, with Arsenal great Ian Wright saying: "I think he's got the credentials to be captain, but to be captain for 10 years? I'm not sure when you see some of the players that were around then."

'Better candidates at the time'
"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," added Wright, who played alongside Campbell for England in the 1990s

"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."

John Barnes, the former England winger who as a black player in the late 1970s and early 1980s had bananas thrown at him by racist fans and was subjected to abusive taunts from the terraces, also thought Campbell was wide of the mark.

"I don't think Sol would have been captain for 10 years because if you look at who the captains were - Tony Adams and then after that Alan Shearer," Barnes said.

"Then David Beckham became captain and that was a PR exercise for the FA. I don't think necessarily it was because of the colour of Sol's skin."

Sven Goran-Eriksson, England manager for much of Campbell's international career, was equally adamant race had played no part in his captaincy choice.

"Not a chance - during my years, not a chance," the Swede told Britain's Daily Telegraph in an interview published on Monday.

Sunday saw former FA executive director David Davies, at the organisation when Campbell was a player, deny English football chiefs applied any kind of pressure on managers over the choice of national captain.

"My belief is (the allegations) are wrong," Davies said.

So far the current FA hierarchy have made no public response to Campbell's remarks and British media reports said it was understood they had no plans to comment.