Fraizer Campbell: England call is just the best

FRAIZER Campbell says he could not have written a better script after going from the lowest point of his life to the highest.

Fraizer Campbell

FRAIZER Campbell says he could not have written a better script after going from the lowest point of his life to the highest.

The uncapped 24-year-old Sunderland centre-forward was the surprise name in Stuart Pearce’s first England squad.

Campbell has made just three starts this season – his first for a year and a half. He ruptured his cruciate knee ligaments against Manchester City in August 2010, and again early last year in an aborted comeback.

He said: “It has gone from the worst point in my life, 18 months ago, to probably the best moment of my life.

“It has been a bit of a rollercoaster. It has been brilliant the last month or so, playing games and being back involved.

“Every person at the club has come up to me and said ‘well done, it is well deserved’. It makes it even more special.

“I had been out for a heck of a long time so to come back and get this, I could not have written a better story. ” With a caretaker-manager in charge for the first time, plenty of English footballers will have woken yesterday hoping to be part of Wednesday’s friendly at home to the Netherlands.

Although he knew Pearce had monitored his return to fitness, which began with a goalscoring

substitute appearance against Middlesbrough in January, Campbell is adamant he was not one of them.

Wednesday’s Wembley game is England’s last this season.

By the time of their next they may have a permanent manager as their preparations for the European Championships begin in earnest.

Campbell has come through the England system and won 14 caps for the under-21s, managed by Pearce.

He also had a season-long loan at Tottenham Hotspur in 2008-09. Harry Redknapp, hot favourite to be the next permanent England manager, took the White Hart Lane reins in October 2008.

Campbell added: “The head physio here Dave Galley has worked with the under-21s for a few years and he said the gaffer there (Pearce) had been asking about me.

“Other than that there was no indication at all. It never entered my mind.

“The manager Martin O’Neill came up to me in training, shook my hand and said, ‘well done’. I was like ‘er, cheers’.

“I was getting a lot of stick in training, everyone was smashing the ball at me and saying, ‘come on, you are an England international, what is that?’

“You have to expect it. It is all fun and games.

“When you are ten years old, that is what you think about, playing for your favourite club or playing for your country.

“Every footballer in the league would be lying if they said they did not want to play for the national team. It iss massive, brilliant.”

Campbell has been involved in every game since his return, bar being spared a snow-bound pitch at Stoke City.

He said: “I don’t even know how many games it is I have played – it is not many though.

“It has been an amazing month of my life. To be back playing, scoring goals and enjoying my football, then to get recognition like this is just amazing.”

Campbell is one of three strikers Steve Bruce signed for Sunderland in Pearce’s squad, along with Darren Bent and Danny Welbeck.

His call-up vindicates Campbell’s decision to leave Manchester United for Wearside in 2009 – not that he ever thought it was in doubt.

He added: “It is incredible how things develop.

“I always believed I had made the right decision anyway. At the time I left they had loads of strikers there, world-class strikers too.

“I could see I was not going to get much of an opportunity. I needed to go. I still think it was a great decision.”

Former Newcastle United defender Pearce said of Campbell’s call-up: “He is an exciting young talent and he will thrive in this environment.”

Clubmate Connor Wickham was named in the under-21 squad to face Belgium in a Euro 2013 qualifier at the Riverside, also on Wednesday.

 
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