Sol Campbell can be accused of a hell of a lot of things but you can’t really call him boring.
A footballer who left Spurs for Arsenal, who has made his way through the game despite homophobic and racial slurs, and has attempted to embark on a career in politics as well as taking on The FA.
He, however, is disappointed to see so few characters in football nowadays.
“There used to be so many of them: Paul Ince, Gazza, Tony Adams, etc. And the foreign players, like Cantona,” Campbell said in an interview with the Daily Mail.
“You need those characters but they are going. Wayne Rooney is one but he will retire in four or five years. John Terry will retire sooner. Frank Lampard has gone. Stevie G has gone. There’s a different type of player coming through. They are good but they are bland.”
On Saturday Rooney equalled Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 England goals with a penalty against San Marino. The Manchester United and England captain has hit the front pages as well as the back over the years but, much like Tony Adams, Paul Gascoigne, or Eric Cantona that hasn’t stopped them reaching the top.
“Street football has gone in this country,” Campbell continue. “I used to jump the school gates to play. Now the gates are 10 feet high. There are no rough-and-ready players who are gentlemen at the same time, who stand up for what they desire.
“I looked at football as a hobby, as a sport I loved. Now people go into it to earn money, not the other way round.”
Is that what the English national team needs? I don’t think a love of the game can be questioned for a lot of these players, but maybe many of them don’t love it as Rooney does. Is Campbell right, or is he just lamenting the loss of a bygone era that, as a part of, he was so very fond of?
There are still things he wants to change about modern football to bring the sport more in line with the way he feels, but he clearly misses the way the game has moved on.