On this day: Sol Campbell joins Arsenal

Twelve years ago today, Tottenham Hotspur defender Sol Campbell signed for Arsenal on a free transfer.

Back in 2001, it had become abundantly clear to Tottenham Hotspur supporters that they were going to lose the services of defender Sol Campbell. His deal was due to expire in the summer and there were no signs of an extension.

It was at a time that while Ledley King was part of the squad, he was often being used by George Graham as a midfielder, meaning that Campbell was the hub of the Spurs rearguard.

Now losing one of your best players is one thing, but seeing him join your biggest rivals is unthinkable. It seemed that the then 26-year-old was going to accept an offer from one of Europe's biggest clubs, but 12 years ago today he was unveiled as an Arsenal player on a four-year contract.

Journalists at the time had no idea - they had arrived at Arsenal's training ground expecting to see Ipswich Town goalkeeper Richard Wright unveiled.

Sol Campbell in action for Arsenal away at Tottenham Hotspur.© PA Photos

It was a move that stunned English football and one that angered Tottenham fans, who would forever brand the centre-back Judas.

Upon his arrival, he told reporters: "I've made my decision and I just hope people respect it. Obviously I know what happened to [former Arsenal and Spurs boss] George Graham and what he had to deal with. It is something I am prepared to face and hopefully it won't be a major problem for me.

"I spent a lot of years at Tottenham and while I was there I played my heart out and tried everything to help move the team in the right direction. But the time finally came to make a decision to move on.

"I was very keen to stay in the Premiership. Sven-Goran Eriksson, the England coach, is here and the majority of games he sees are here in England. It was a big decision. I could have earned more money by going abroad but I felt this was the place to be."

Sol Campbell celebrates winning the double with Arsenal.© PA Photos

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger, who had convinced Campbell to switch to the enemy, added: "I was told many times that I had to improve my defence. I tried to attract him here because he is the best. After chatting to him I felt he is a very ambitious guy who wants to improve and play at the top level. That convinced me he is the right player for us.

"I felt we could not compete on a financial basis with the top clubs who were after him but we could give him a football challenge. I felt we gave him something that was important to him - to be close to where the national football team play. It is a huge signing for this club. He has to prove it and I have to prove it."

So, did he go on to prove it? Well, during his five-year stint at the club he managed to win two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a further two Community Shields - you be the judge.

Following spells with Portsmouth, where he won the FA Cup, and Notts County, he returned to the Emirates Stadium for brief stint in 2010, but that would end without silverware.

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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City65102121916
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd65101721516
3Chelsea6411125713
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs6321105511
5Liverpool63211211111
6Watford6321910-111
7Newcastle UnitedNewcastle53026429
8Huddersfield TownHuddersfield62315329
9Burnley62316519
10West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom52214408
11Southampton622245-18
12Arsenal521278-17
13Everton6213411-77
14Swansea CitySwansea612337-45
15Stoke CityStoke6123510-55
16Leicester CityLeicester6114912-34
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton511347-34
18West Ham UnitedWest Ham6114613-74
19Bournemouth6105411-73
20Crystal Palace6006013-130
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