Sol Campbell, the former England and Arsenal defender, believes he will have to move abroad to fulfil his ambitions of becoming a coach due to racial prejudices that exist in this country, describing attitudes to black footballers here as "archaic".
Campbell, who won 73 caps for his country, two Premier League titles with Arsenal and at his prime was recognised as being among the finest central defenders in the world, is currently working towards gaining the qualifications required to become a coach or manager across Europe having retired following a 19-year playing career in May 2012. From start to finish, the process is likely to take three years and Campbell believes that upon completion he will have to leave Britain to begin his new career.
"I want to start abroad," said the 39-year-old in an exclusive interview with the Guardian. "There are no opportunities for me here, not until attitudes change anyway. Everyone has to ask themselves why there are not more black managers in this country and why the likes of [former Sheffield United striker] Brian Deane have to go abroad [to Sarpsborg 08 in Norway] to get a chance. I've spoken to other black players who want to coach and they feel the same, that attitudes here are archaic. I hope and pray the environment changes."
Campbell's assertion is backed up by the paucity of black managers currently working in England, with only four – Chris Hughton, Chris Powell, Paul Ince and Chris Kiwomya – employed among the country's 92 professional clubs. There may well be vast improvements should the Professional Footballers Association and Football League's plans to introduce an equivalent of the "Rooney Rule" – which requires NFL teams in America to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head-coach roles – go ahead. However, Campbell may be long gone by then given the anger he feels towards the English Football Association in particular.
"I gave my heart and soul for the national team but the FA were not there for me when I had problems," he said. "Even after that, I still wanted to do something with the England setup, and they said they were interested, but the interest went cold. Suddenly, Gary Neville pops up as assistant manager. It's obvious they want nice people who won't cause them any problems. I put out an olive branch and it got broken, but whatever, I'm ready to move on."