Arsene Wenger has admitted that he would think twice about signing Sol Campbell from Tottenham if he could go back in time due to the stress the transfer put on the centre-back.
To this day, if you ask any Spurs fan which footballer they hate the most, the vast majority will likely be Campbell.
The former defender was once adored by the Spurs faithful as he came through the Tottenham academy and went on to captain the Lilywhites.
However, that all changed in the summer of 2001 when he controversially decided to sign for Spurs’ fierce North London rivals after running down his contract at White Hart Lane.
Since then, the former Arsenal man has received the full-wrath of Tottenham fans, with many still referring to him as ‘Judas’.
Wenger admitted that the former England international found it difficult to deal with the level of abuse that was directed at him at times.
The former Gunners boss told German magazine 11 Freunde: “The situation was really stressful for Sol and he told me afterwards how severe it became.
“He couldn’t go to certain places for dinner or walk freely in London because of the anger of the Tottenham fans.
“In hindsight, I’m not sure if I would sign him again bearing in mind the difficulties he faced.”
The Frenchman also revealed how the transfer was kept a secret before Campbell was unveiled at Highbury.
He added: “Until I presented Sol Campbell to the press, nobody could have ever imagined him in an Arsenal shirt. This transfer remained secret amongst the four of us: him, his agent, David and me.
“That cannot happen anymore in modern football because there are so many people involved in a transfer. We walked around the house in the countryside at night. I knew that it would cause heated debates in London, but I was truly convinced by the player.
“I thought he was capable of facing the adversity. For me, it was easy because everybody was conscious that I had signed a great player. But for him, it was more complicated.”
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Campbell, being a free agent, could have gone to almost any big team in Europe that summer as he was in the peak of his prowess. He was certainly asking for trouble by moving to Arsenal, although there is a thin line between giving a player stick and abusing them.
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