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Former Premier League star Kevin Campbell dies aged 54

<i>Allsport UK/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Kevin Campbell pictured in 1993 while playing for Arsenal.
Allsport UK/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
Kevin Campbell pictured in 1993 while playing for Arsenal.

By Issy Ronald, CNN

(CNN) — Former Arsenal player Kevin Campbell has died aged 54 after a “short illness,” the Premier League club announced on Saturday.

Campbell played 228 times for Arsenal in the 1980s and 1990s, winning the English First Division title (the predecessor to the Premier League), the FA Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup with the North London club.

He later moved to Nottingham Forest and Everton, where he became the club’s first Black captain and a fan favorite, especially for his remarkable record of scoring nine goals in five games to help ensure the Toffees avoided relegation from the Premier League in the 1998/99 season.

Tributes have poured in from former teammates, with Wayne Rooney – who played with Campbell at Everton – saying he was “devastated to hear the news.”

“Kev was a great teammate but more importantly a brilliant person who helped me a lot in my early years,” the former England and Manchester United striker said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

He had spells at West Bromwich Albion and Cardiff City before retiring from soccer in 2007 and embarking on a media career as a pundit.

Born in London, Campbell grew up supporting Arsenal and joined the club’s academy aged 15 where his knack for goalscoring was quickly established.

He later formed a close partnership with fellow forward Ian Wright and the two
men proved integral to Arsenal’s historic 1992/93 season in which it became the first club to win the FA Cup and League Cup double.

Wright on Saturday posted several pictures on social media of the two of them.

Such was Campbell’s popularity at Arsenal that “he remained a dear and cherished friend to many at the club, always maintaining the close links that began in his very early days at Highbury,” the Gunners said in a statement.

Similarly at Everton, he became “one of the most popular men to ever wear the royal blue jersey,” the club said in a statement.

Meanwhile, former Arsenal captain Tony Adams said on X: “Super Kev: a goal machine, a giant of a man, with an even bigger heart.

“An intensely private and truly wonderful human being. I’m devastated for his loved ones, and all of us. Love you Super Kev, Skipper.”

Campbell’s 24-year-old son Tyrese thanked those paying tribute for “the outpouring of love” that had followed his father’s death.

“The pain of this is indescribable and as a son you look at your dad as invincible. He is my idol, the one who I wanted to be when I grew up,” he said on Instagram Stories.

“He was the life and soul of every party and room he blessed, a one-in-a-million person that was loved by everyone. A special, special person. I’ll miss you Dad.”

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