Perry Groves ‘devastated’ as he pays emotional tribute to friend Kevin Campbell

    Kevin Campbell was not just a fantastic player, but he was an even better human being.

    Those were the words talkSPORT pundit and ex-Arsenal star Perry Groves used to his describe his former teammate and friend, who has sadly passed away at the age of 54.


    Groves gave a touching tribute to his friend and former teammate live on airCredit: Allsport UK

    The news was confirmed on Saturday morning after it emerged earlier this month that Campbell was seriously ill in hospital.

    Groves, who won the first division title alongside Campbell in 1991, spoke to talkSPORT shortly after the news broke and gave an emotional tribute to his friend, stating his spirit will always be with him and everyone who knew him.

    “Devastated doesn’t cover it mate,” he said on the Euro GameDay Warm-Up.

    “Even though we all knew he was ill and was taken poorly a couple of weeks ago, and we know Kev’s a fighter, so we’re willing for him to pull through.


    “You get this news and it just… life is just so unfair. You think about things in your own life that go wrong. I’ve got to be honest I’m still trying to process it.

    “Most of us, 99 per cent of us, have character defects. Super Kev didn’t have one. He didn’t have one. All the clubs that he played for will say what a fantastic player he was.

    “But he was an even better human being. Everybody who met him – he lit up the room when he walked in, he was very humble.”

    Groves and Campbell both played for Arsenal in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with the former joining from Colchester United in 1986 and the latter rising from the youth set-up in 1988.

    Groves expressed his love for his former teammate that passed away on Saturday


    Groves expressed his love for his former teammate that passed away on SaturdayCredit: talkSPORT
    The ex-Arsenal man won the first division title with Campbell in 1991


    The ex-Arsenal man won the first division title with Campbell in 1991Credit: Getty

    They remained friends as they went on different paths in their career, with Groves moving on to Southampton in 1992 and Campbell leaving Arsenal for Nottingham Forest in 1995.

    Campbell made 542 club appearances and scored 148 goals across a lengthy career which saw him win five major trophies with Arsenal, while he also earned legendary status at Everton, too.

    “I’ve known him since he was a teenager,” Groves continued. “You know, I’ve known him for 38 years. We lost Alan Miller a couple of years ago at a very young age.

    “This sounds really… If people pass away when they’re 75, 80, I can sort of process that and go ‘OK’. When someone I’ve known from when I was at Arsenal in the youth team and passes away…

    “And you know, for Kev’s family, his immediate family, his children, I really can’t comprehend.

    “There will be a huge, huge outpouring of love and respect for Kev and everything will be heartfelt trust me. He was just such a fantastic person.”

    Groves went on to say Campbell had sent him a message two months ago.

    He added: “We’re in a group together, all the Arsenal boys. I got a message from him, he was ill in February and we knew and we all sent messages.

    Campbell made 210 appearances for Arsenal


    Campbell made 210 appearances for ArsenalCredit: Getty
    He won the European Cup Winners Cup with the Gunners along with the first division title, FA Cup and League Cup


    He won the European Cup Winners Cup with the Gunners along with the first division title, FA Cup and League CupCredit: GETTY

    “Then I got a message from him in April and we thought, ‘Oh great, Kev’s out!’

    “Then to think on one hand oh that’s great, Kev’s out, it looks he’s on the road to [recovery] and then hear two weeks ago that he’s struggling and he’s in hospital, then this…

    “Honestly, his spirit and his soul will always be with us. Always.”

    Curtis Davies, who played with Campbell at West Brom during the 2005/06 campaign, then joined talkSPORT over the phone to pay his respect.

    He remarked: “I was hoping he’d get better and we’d hear some good news, but unfortunately I’ve woken up this morning and it’s shocked me and rocked me, it’s a really sad day.”

    Davis continued: “He was amazing with us young lads, the elder ones, the tea people, kit men.

    “And I just learned so much from him on how to be a proper captain, it’s not just leading ten other men out onto the pitch, it’s around the building, making sure everyone is looked after and is OK.

    “It was his personality, he was a great guy, anyone that knew him knew he was a great person to be around.

    Campbell came up through the youth ranks at Highbury


    Campbell came up through the youth ranks at HighburyCredit: GETTY

    “I’m not quite an introvert, but definitely around Kev you’d seem like an introvert because he was usually the funniest one in the room, the one that’s telling all the stories and jokes.

    “He truly will be missed by a lot of people.”

    Arsenal icon Alan Smith, who the league title as well as the FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup, then joined Max Rushden and Charlie Baker to deliver his own tribute.

    The 61-year-old said: “He was an extrovert in many ways, full of life, full of smiles, and had such a positive attitude I felt to life.

    “I remember him coming through the ranks at the youth team and then into the senior set-up, everyone immediately loved him, he was one of those infectious characters in the dressing room.

    “It’s such a sad day.”

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