|Kevin Campbell - Striker|
Many Evertonians were nonplused by Walter Smith's desperation signing of Kevin Campbell on loan in March 1999. The former Arsenal striker had failed to set the Premiership alight in the manner expected in the early part of his career and his move from Nottingham Forest to Turkish side Trabsonspor in 1998 seemed to confirm that Campbell's career was in danger of petering out rather than scaling the heights at a top Premier League club.
However, cash-strapped Smith saw in Campbell a cheap way of acquiring much-needed firepower for his bid to steer Everton away from increasingly real relegation danger. The benefit was mutual, as Kevin was by that point desperate to leave Turkey, having been on the victim of barbed racist comments by the Trabsonspor president who branded Campbell a "discoloured cannibal" and attacked his scoring record.
Campbell's initial impact at Goodison was staggering. He fired nine goals in as many appearances for the Blues and his goals almost single-handedly steered the club away from the drop zone and to mid-table safety. It was perhaps the most significant contribution any one player had made to Everton since Andrei Kanchelskis notched 16 goals and brought then manager Joe Royle's side to within minutes of UEFA Cup qualification.
That summer, despite crippling financial problems, Everton secured a £3M transfer for Campbell from Turkey and there was hope that the solution to one of the club's longest running problems namely the lack of a 20-goal-a-season forward had finally been found.
Campbell started his career with Arsenal and rose through the ranks to become a regular first-team goalscorer at Highbury until the arrival of Ian Wright edged Kevin out of the spotlight and he eventually transferred to Forest for £3M in 1995.
He enjoyed probably his best season to date in Nottingham Forest's colours during 1997-98, when he scored 23 goals. His partnership with Pierre van Hooijdonk was a vital element in the Midlanders' 1st Division Championship win and their emphatic return to Premiership status.
It had long been thought that the former Arsenal striker had a lot more to offer and this was the answer to his many critics. With strength and pace, two good feet, and modest skills in the air, his 23 First Division goals proved to be his highest aggregate yet, and included three braces and one hat-trick.
His move to the Black Sea city of Trabzon was a curious but lucrative one, but barely a season had gone by before everything went sour and Campbell was looking to return home at the first opportunity. He sent his family back to England, and tried hard to extricate himself from the club, where he was dropped and ended up training with the youth team.
Enter Everton and an obviously grateful Campbell arrived at Goodison to make a fresh start. Although he failed to score on his first two appearances an away defeat by Liverpool which ended the Blues' 5-year dominance over the Reds and the corner-stone capitulation at home to Sheffield Wednesday Campbell scored twice in his third game, against Coventry City, and didn't look back.
Kevin's arrival had coincided with the explosion onto the scene of Francis Jeffers, and the pair struck up a phenomenal partnership, supplemented by the midfield craft of Nick Barmby and Don Hutchison. However, because of injuries to Campbell and Jeffers, and the subsequent departures of Barmby and then Jeffers himself over the ensuing three seasons, Super Kev was unable to provide the consistent and reliable source of goals Everton so badly needed and the team experienced long periods of stagnation going forward.
Having signed a lucrative 5-year deal in 2000 that would earn him £30,000-a-week and been awarded the club captaincy, he had the platform on which to build on his Goodison hero status. But Campbell's own long-term injury problems in each of the 1999-2k, 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons seemed to take a severe toll on his sharpness, pace and general fitness. Nevertheless, he still managed to rack up 25 goals in 67 starts.
Campbell was one of the many players to benefit markedly from the arrival of David Moyes and his emphasis on fitness and football. Another good spell for Campbell in the first half of the 2002-03 season saw him scoring 9 goals in 25 consecutive starts. But SuperKev has been less fortunate in his second full season under Moyes, getting few chances and failing to find the net until the last dismal game, and a consolation goal (some consolation!) against City's five.
Campbell saw very little action in what was to be his final season at Goodison Park, with Davis Moyes switching to a 4-5-1 formation where Marcus Bent plowed the lone furrow, regularly subbed by Duncan Ferguson. But SuperKev did get one final start, playing most of the vital New Year game against Portsmouth before his pay-off deal (£10k/wk) enabled him to stay in the Premiership, moving on to West Bromwich Albion and the supremely ineffective management of one Bryan Robson.
Updated by Michael Kenrick, January 2005
ͺ: Campbell's 'goal' at West Brom in 2002-03 was ultimately granted to Davie Weir