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Kevin Campbell: Sky Sports News' Alan Myers pays emotional tribute to ex-Everton striker after his death aged 54

Former Arsenal, Everton and Nottingham Forest striker Kevin Campbell has died aged 54; he scored 148 goals in 542 club games across an almost 20-year career at the top; Sky Sports News' Alan Myers pays tribute to his "good friend" and "a gentleman with a big heart"

Kevin Campbell

Football is a strange game, you meet many people and have many acquaintances but the transient nature of the business means you lose touch with most of those you work with. But, with a very select few people it's different, they leave an indelible mark on you. Kevin Campbell was one of those people.

Kevin's personality, his character and his love was a commitment, he never allowed you to lose touch, he would make sure he called you regularly to merely ask, 'How are you?', or if you were doing ok. It was a genuine interest, not a call because he had a long car journey to get through, not a call because he wanted something, but he called as a friend.

I first met Kevin when he joined Everton in 1999 on loan after a spell in Turkey with Trabzonspor. Walter Smith gave me a call to say we had signed both Kevin and Scott Gemmill on Transfer Deadline Day - little did we know how big an impact he was to have over the next few months.

Alan Myers and Kevin Campbell
Image: Kevin Campbell (left) and Alan Myers first met at Everton

Everton were in a bit of trouble at the wrong end of the table and suffered from a lack of goals. Kev's impact was crucial in the club staying in the Premier League that season as he scored nine goals in eight games to lift them away from trouble, but it was his effect within the dressing room which was most telling. His positivity was infectious and brought the very best out of everyone at the club, players, staff and even the press officer. I started to enjoy my job again!

Walter made the no-brainer decision to sign Kevin permanently the following summer for £3m - an absolute bargain looking back now. Kevin continued to be a huge character around the training ground and throughout the club.

However, it wasn't what the public saw which left a lasting impression on me, it was who and what he was behind the scenes which meant more and why he became such a good friend.

Alan Myers and Kevin Campbell
Image: Campbell and Myers became good friends after their time at Everton together

One day, I walked into the Bellefield training ground dressing room, Kevin was there and another player, who felt it was funny to criticise my weight and appearance - just banter of course in those days, but nevertheless a bit hurtful. Kevin stood up immediately and said, "Yes, but Alan can lose weight, you'll always have that face", putting the player in his place and making me feel a whole lot better. You see, Kevin hated anyone being put down, he stood up for the underdog and he stood up for me that day, when it would've been easier not to.

I remember the day Kevin was made captain, the first Black captain in the club's history; he was beaming with pride and we chatted about it for a while as Kev characteristically played it down, but I know how much it meant.

Alan Myers and Kevin Campbell
Image: Campbell and Myers remained friends after departing Goodison Park

When I left the club it was a difficult time for me. My last game as an employee was against Middlesbrough and Kevin came to me in the tunnel before that game, gave me his captain's armband and told me he would score that day, and to watch his celebration because it would be for me.

We laughed about it, but later that night I watched Match Of the Day, very down as I'd left a job I loved, Everton's game came on and sure enough, Kevin scored and did his "Big Al" celebration (his nickname for me). The tears rolled down my face, a gesture I've never forgotten and the captain's armband I still cherish to this day.

Kevin Campbell's armband he gave Alan Myers
Image: Campbell gave Myers his captain's armband as a leaving gift when Myers departed Everton

Since he left the club, we kept in touch on a regular basis, we would often call each other and talk about mainly Everton, but also a whole range of subjects. Kevin was such a charismatic man but more so a gentleman, a man who would never gossip about people, who would never criticise people, even if he had a right to.

Kevin Campbell was such a big man in so many ways - physically, personality wise and vocally - but it was his big heart which made him stand out among others.

Football needs people like Kevin, the world needs people like Kevin and I for one will never forget him!

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