Former favourites explain Bobby Campbell’s Pompey influence

Bobby Campbell
Bobby Campbell

Tributes have been paid to Bobby Campbell by two of his most important Pompey signings.

The former Pompey player and boss – who led the club to promotion from the old division three as manager in 1982-83 – died at the age of 78 on Friday.

And Mark Hateley and Kevin Dillon have both spoken on the impact made on their own careers during their spells at Fratton Park under Campbell’s leadership.

Hateley joined the club after their promotion to the old second division and enjoyed one extraordinary season under Campbell.

In a side that entertained but struggled to keep goals out at the other end, Hateley netted 25 times, which catapulted him into the England team before a big-money move to Italian giants AC Milan.

But the former Blues striker believes his career could have taken a very different route, had it not been for Campbell’s influence.

Hateley said: ‘That season at Portsmouth was an explosion for me and that was all down to Bobby.

‘He took me from Coventry and really added something to my game.

‘So I’ve got a lot to thank him for.

‘I needed to bring out that aggressive side of my game.

‘He wanted me angry – not running around kicking people – but channelling that anger into an aggressive style of play. He was an important part of my career for that one year.

‘As a young player, you are looking to add things to your game as quickly as you can.

‘Had it not been for Bobby, it might have taken a while or it might never have come out.

‘But he got me scoring goals and I went on to play for England that season.

‘I found him a genuinely great guy.

‘There were a few players that probably didn’t find him a great guy because he could be pretty tough at times.

‘It was frankness. He was always there to tell you and would say it to your face if he had something to say.

‘He knew what he wanted and he had high standards.

‘But I can’t say a bad word about him.’

Midfielder Dillon, who joined from Birmingham the season before, revealed that Campbell’s coaching and recruitment played a key role in Pompey’s promotion from the third flight and eventual return to the top division.

Dillon said: ‘Bobby got the club back on the way to where it should have been. He was the start of that process.

‘His training was excellent, he was a good coach. He knew what he was doing.

‘He brought in some very good players. Players like Neil Webb and Mark Hateley, especially, was a big signing. You have got to credit Bob with that.

‘He wanted to progress and he realised the stature of the club.

‘It was the best time of my career and Bobby was the start of that.

‘It was a shock when I heard the news.

‘When I was manager at Aldershot, he used to come to some of our games and I used to bump into him quite a lot.

‘He would always pop into my office and have a chat.

‘He always looked well. He was just a really nice man.’