Mon, Feb

Sol Campbell is back in football as Trinidad and Tobago assistant manager, after a phone call from former team mate Thierry Henry.

Sol Campbell is back in football as Trinidad and Tobago assistant manager, after a phone call from former team mate Thierry Henry.

The former England international was targeted by the Soca Warriors, who are revamping their coaching set-up, after former Swansea player Dennis Lawrence was appointed the Caribbean nation's new manager.

‘It will be challenging but I’m ready to roll up my sleeves to help out,’ Campbell told Sportsmail.

The ex-Arsenal defender, who has completed his coaching badges, is keen to take his first steps into football management and this role provides Campbell with that opportunity.

Campbell has been away from football since retiring in May 2012 but has been keen for a return. 

This news breaks just 10 days after Campbell's exclusive interview with Sportsmail was published, in which he revealed his plans to become 'one of the greatest managers this country has ever produced'.

Campbell indicated that he was happy to gain experience anywhere, in the lower leagues or abroad.

The 42-year-old said: 'I'm older now. I'm even more mature than I was as a player. I can handle all that kind of stuff. I dealt with it as a player and it's a little different as a manager but I've got the capacity to absorb all of that.'

Since then, Campbell was contacted by Lawrence, a former Swansea player and Everton coach, and after speaking to Arsenal legend Henry, who is Roberto Martinez's assistant at the Belgium national team, he was convinced to join Trinidad and Tobago. 

Lawrence was only appointed Trinidad and Tobago manager this month, and Campbell is also open to other opportunities in between their qualifiers for the 2018 Russia World Cup. 

Trinidad and Tobago are currently fifth out of six in their group alongside Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Honduras and the United States, with two defeats in two games. They have fixtures at home to Panama and Mexico in March and in June they travel to the United States and Costa Rica.

The former Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Portsmouth, Notts County and Newcastle United defender has had an eclectic five years since ending his playing days.

Campbell came close to running as Conservative candidate for London Mayor and has helped run his wife Fiona's furniture design business.

However he could now be using his extensive playing experience - including 73 England caps across six major tournaments including three World Cups - to help Trinidad and Tobago reach a finals of their own.

The Caribbean nation have reached one World Cup in their history - Germany 2006 where they played England, who had Campbell on the bench, in the group stage. England won the match 2-0, and the debutants finished bottom of the pool with one point from three games.


Sol Campbell is T&T assistant coach.
By Nigel Simon (Guardian).

Former Arsenal and England international defender Sol Campbell has been named as an assistant coach to new T&T senior football team coach Dennis Lawrence.

This was announced by T&T Football Association President David John-Williams at a media conference held at the football body’s office at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, yesterday.

A towering defender who also played for Tottenham Spurs during his professional career, Campbell also captained the England team at the age of 23, and was part of Arsenal’s “Invincibles” team which played unbeaten throughout the English Barclays Premier League in the 2003/2004 season.

He currently holds a UEFA Pro Licence badge, but this will be his first ever appointment to a national team under Lawrence.

Concerning Campbell’s appointment John-Williams said, “Dennis (Lawrence) was given the chance to chose his own staff and over the last couple of days he recommended someone who he would like to be his assistant (Sol Campbell) and I was able to secure his signature around 5 am (TT time) yesterday.

With respect to the rest of his coaching staff Lawrence said, “I have had conversations with numerous people and coming this week I will be speaking with a couple local coaches as well.

John-Williams also thanked Lawrence for accepting the opportunity after the post became vacant earlier this month when Belgium’s Tom Saintfiet called it quits after only four matches and 35 days in charge of the team, including the Concacaf Gold Cup qualifiers at home to Suriname and Haiti, from which T&T failed to advance.

The T&TFA boss added, “I think the task ahead is very difficult but Dennis will get the full support of the association.

“We have been having some conversations over the last couple of days and have been in contact almost every day and Dennis has been very instrumental in also allowing the opportunity for Sol Campbell to be here as well.

He stated, “It was a difficult negotiation, but it was successful and I have a lot of faith in Dennis.

“As I said earlier he has the head to take us to another Fifa World Cup. It will be difficult, but not impossible, as March 24 (Panama) and March 28 (Mexico) are very important days.

John-Williams added, In addition to the men’s senior team programme up and running I know Dennis has some plans to have the team full time right after the Pro League finishes to start some preparation and I have every confidence he is going to do a good job.

When Guardian Media contacted Campbell in England yesterday about his appointment he said I signed the agreement at 5 am this morning (Monday) and I had no hesitation. “When you get your pen out to sign and there’s no hesitation, then you know you’re in the good place. I had no hesitation to sign.”

The 42-year-old who will arrive in T&T on March 10, said that, “Dennis write me last week and he text me, and he rang me and I took it all first it’s a shock.”

A veteran of 20 years career playing in the Premier League and an 11-year international career revealed that, “After I took it all in I said Wow...this is a fantastic opportunity. I know Dennis, he has vast experience as well. Looking at Trinidad and Tobago, a fantastic kind of history as well pushing all the way it shows good. I’m excited because T&T has chosen him and they show they want progression and showing that they want to bring someone from within and I like that.”

Campbell, who is reported to be worth $55 million, with 195 appearances at Arsenal and the winner of two Premier League titles and FA Cup winners medals said, I’m extremely exciting about the challenge and it’s a challenge, but for me the exciting thing is rolling up my sleeves, adding quality and difference and assisting Dennis where I can. Adding value and bringing a winning mentally. I’m excited and scared as well. I thank Dennis and T&T for giving me this opportunity.”

Arsenal legend joins T&T coaching staff.
By Jelani Beckles (Newsday).

NEW national coach of the men’s senior football team Dennis Lawrence has made his first appointment, acquiring the services of former England and Arsenal defender Sol Campbell as his assistant coach.

The announcement was made yesterday at a press conference held at the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) office at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port-of-Spain.

Lawrence, who was appointed as the T&T head coach on January 21, was also officially unveiled as the T&T coach yesterday.

Campbell, born to Jamaican parents, made 73 appearances for England between 1996 and 2007. President of the TTFA David John-Williams said Lawrence has been granted the luxury to choose his staff.

John-Williams said, “Dennis has been given the opportunity to choose his own staff. Over the last couple of days he has recommended somebody who he would like to be his assistant.

He is a UEFA Pro Licence coach. He is a legend in the game, in the English Premiership.

He was part of the Arsenal invincibles and that person is Sol Campbell. I have been able to secure his signature at five o’clock this morning (yesterday), so he is signed and on board.” Lawrence scored a header against Bahrain in 2005 to earn T&T a spot at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The TTFA president is hopeful Lawrence can use his head in a different capacity.

John-Williams said, “His head took us to the World Cup in 2006, and now he is charged with using that same head in a different way to take us to Russia 2018.

Dennis, I welcome you officially on board and all the best.” Lawrence, who thanked Roberto Martinez and Graeme Jones for giving him his first coaching stint in England with Wigan Athletic, said it will be a tough task to qualify for Russia but it is not impossible. Lawrence, for the second time since his appointment, was unwilling to divulge the details of his contract.

“The length of my contract is the length of my citizenship. I am here and I am committed to Trinidad and Tobago football if it takes me the rest of my life.” Prior to Lawrence getting the job, Belgian Tom Saintfiet was the T&T coach for a month before resigning, citing a lack of support from the TTFA.

There have been some situations of indiscipline among the T&T footballers in recent times, something Lawrence is confident he can resolve.

“I’ve spent four and a half years in the Army, I think everybody knows my background. I have conducted myself in a very disciplined, professional manner throughout my life and my career.

“In terms of discipline there is going to be clear directions to what I expect, what Trinidad and Tobago as a country expect, and I also expect the players to follow these patterns and be able to work and enjoy the work.” Last year, three national players were reprimanded for leaving camp to attend a boat ride, while months later two players allegedly showed up to training camp smelling of alcohol.

Veteran T&T striker Kenwyne Jones has been out of favour recently but Lawrence said that all players, once committed, will be a part of his team.

“Every player that holds a Trinidad and Tobago passport is going to be in my setup, he is going to be involved. Kenwyne is a player that I know very well, I played with Kenwyne, I spoke to Kenwyne, I’ve got a relationship with Kenwyne.

Kenwyne has given yeoman service to Trinidad and Tobago football.” The new coach said he plans to keep the communication lines open with his players. “I plan to speak to the players over the next couple weeks, find out exactly what are their thoughts and what are they thinking. Any player that wants to be involved with me there is an open door.

If a player for whatever reason thinks he is not up for the task, and he does not want to be involved, I will move on to the next player. The players that I want around me are going to be the players that are committed to the cause and the goals that I want to achieve for Trinidad and Tobago.”

Lawrence’s first major goal will be getting favourable results when the World Cup qualifiers resume. T&T will face Panama on March 24 and Mexico on March 28. Both matches will be played at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.