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Exclusive: Sol Campbell says he ‘nearly’ played for Ferguson

FELLOW SPECTATORS: Campbell watches on with Ferguson as United play Spurs at White Hart Lane in 2001 (PA)

FORMER ARSENAL centre-back Sol Campbell said he could have played under Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

Campbell, 38, reacting to the news that the United boss, who has been with the Red Devils for 26 years, is to retire at the end of this season told The Voice of Sport he gave the prospect some thought.

“I nearly did, a couple of times [I could have joined United],” he said.

“I had a phone call from Gary Neville, and I think Tottenham turned them down.

“If I pushed it then maybe something would have happened, but Tottenham turned them down at that stage.”

The transfer he did eventually push through was his move across north London to Spurs’ arch rivals Arsenal in 2001 – an acrimonious switch that left supporters at White Hart Lane fuming.

“At the end of the day, I joined a team which had arguably one of the best squads in the world,” he said.

During his time at the Gunners, Campbell formed a formidable partnership with Kolo Toure which was at the heart of the famous “Invincibles” team that won the 2003/2004 Premier League without losing a single game.

CAMPBELL'S COOL: The former pro was in central London to talk about football and his work with young people looking for jobs (Bart Chan)

That season also saw Arsenal clinch the title at White Hart Lane.

“Obviously we didn’t win the European cup, but squad-wise we were one of the best.

“So to join that and be in that environment, I couldn’t say no, really,” he added.

Concerning his illustrious England career in which he won 73 caps for the senior side, Campbell joked: “It was pretty impressive, but I didn’t win anything.”

Looking back, he acknowledged the pain and frustration the country has endured at international tournaments.

“There were some sad moments, because we came close in the 1996 Euros in England when we just missed out at the semi final.

“That was heartache, which was tough to take.

“When you’re there as a young player, you think this chance might happen again, but it doesn’t.

“That’s why when you [miss] that chance, it really hurts, because you don’t know when it will come around again in international football,” the ex-Portsmouth player concluded.

DISALLOWED: Joy quickly turned to pain as the referee ruled out his goal against Argentina for a foul at World Cup France 98 (PA)

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