Fraizer Campbell’s Sweet Justification

by admin

Friday, February 24th, 2012

29 August 2010. A scream of agony reverberated through the Stadium of Light, as he collapsed to the turf. Unbridled pain soared through his knee, wincing with every second of that agonizing afternoon. Leaving the pitch on a stretcher, one thing was sure in his mind – it would be a long time before he was to be afforded the luxury of kicking a ball again.

There have been a number of footballers who have been plagued by the monstrosity of injury over the years, namely seasoned pros like Michael Owen, Rio Ferdinand and Owen Hargreaves. But Fraizer Campbell is a boy whose career was in doubt before it ever really took off. Having come through the Manchester United youth academy, Campbell had been deemed surplus to requirements and was flogged to Hull City and Tottenham Hotspur for successive loan spells. Whilst he flourished at Hull, he never quite adapted to the ethos of Juande Ramos at Spurs, and instead signed a permanent deal at Sunderland in the summer of 2009.

This is a lad whose body has been poisoned by injury, dogged by setbacks upon setbacks which threatened to drag his career into the lower echelons of despair. He has suffered enough mental and physical trauma to last a lifetime, following months and months of rehabilitations, breakdowns and recurrences of the same, treacherous injury.

23 February 2012. ‘This is the happiest day of my life’. Since Fabio Capello’s shock resignation a few weeks earlier, the announcement of the next England squad had been anticipated with bated breath. Breaking news filtered through to all sports channels across the UK, as Stuart Pearce’s squad of 23 was announced to the world. The usual suspects were sure-fire certainties, such as Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney, with upcoming talent also blooded in as expected, such as Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck. But amongst all those media darlings and promising ‘superstars’, was a young lad of 24 years of age, whose knee had given way on the Wearside turf 18 months earlier.

There have been some strange decisions over the years with regards to England squad selections, namely Jay Bothroyd, Kevin Davies and Bobby Zamora, but you feel that Fraizier Campbell quite probably deserves his chance the most. The young boy from Yorkshire only made his long-awaited Sunderland comeback at the turn of the year, grabbing an FA Cup equalizer as a second-half substitute against Middlesbrough. He has since gone on to flourish under Martin O’Neill’s leadership, putting in a number of excellent shifts and showing exactly what the Premier League has been missing out on for the last 18 months.

Strong, pacy and a born finisher, Campbell has always had talent in abundance. All he needed was a platform to showcase his ability. Instead, he was given two years worth of treatment rooms, intense physiotherapy and strenuous cardiovascular work, in a bid to salvage a once-promising career. At times, it must have felt as if his world was caving in on him, as his career seemed to be ebbing away on a treatment table. However, this England call-up won’t just give Campbell an extra spring in his step. No, this will prove to be rewarding justification for the years of mental strength he had been forced to call upon at such a young age. This promising new chapter of his life should be titled ‘Fraizer Campbell’s Career Part 2’. This is just the beginning for him, and with the rapid progress he has been making, the sky truly is the limit for this brave lad from Yorkshire…

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