Kevin Campbell, former Arsenal and Everton forward, dies aged 54

Arsenal's Kevin Campbell in the 1993 FA Cup final
Kevin Campbell in the 1993 FA Cup final, when he helped Arsenal to win the domestic cup double - Bob Thomas

Kevin Campbell, the former Arsenal and Everton striker, has died at the age of 54.

Campbell, who also played for Nottingham Forest, was seriously ill in hospital.

Campbell reportedly suffered a stroke a few months ago before developing kidney failure, with his weight said to have dropped to nine stone by the time of his death.

“We are devastated to learn that our former striker Kevin Campbell has died after a short illness,” Arsenal posted on X. “Kevin was adored by everyone at the club. All of us are thinking of his friends and family at this difficult time. Rest in peace, Kevin.”

Campbell was a key figure in Arsenal being crowned champions of England in 1991, going on to help them win the domestic cup double in 1993 and the European Cup Winners’ Cup the following year under George Graham.

Campbell’s former Arsenal team-mate Ian Wright posted a series of crying emojis along with photographs of the pair together. Wright later appeared on ITV for their coverage of Spain v Croatia and said: “I can’t really go too deep into it because it’s very fresh, I heard this morning. Obviously my best wishes and condolences go to his family. It’s too soon for me to talk about it and if in time I start to talk about it I start to well up. He meant the whole world to a lot of people especially.”

Wayne Rooney, a team-mate during his breakthrough years as a teenager at Everton, said: “Absolutely devastated to hear the news about Kev. Thinking of all his family and friends. Kev was a great team-mate but more importantly a brilliant person who helped me a lot in my earlier years.”

Campbell’s captain at Arsenal, Tony Adams, wrote: “Super Kev: a goal machine, a giant of a man, with an even bigger heart. An intensely private and a truly wonderful human being. I’m devastated for his loved ones, and all of us. Love you Super Kev, Skipper.”

Campbell’s son, Tyrese, himself an professional footballer, most recently with Stoke City, wrote on Instagram: “I appreciate my Dad was admired by many and the outpouring of love has been some comfort for us as a family, so thank you for that at such a difficult time.

“The pain of this is indescribable and as a son you look at your Dad as invincible. He is my idol, the one who I wanted to be when I grew up.

“He was the life and soul of every party and room he blessed, a one in a million person that was loved by everyone, a special special person. I’ll miss you Dad.

“I would now ask that the privacy of our family is respected as we mourn the loss of an irreplaceable father, brother, uncle and all round amazing human being. Love you always Dad.”

Campbell won the title with Arsenal in 1991
Campbell won the title with Arsenal in 1991 having come through the ranks at Highbury - Getty Images

Paying tribute, former Forest team-mate Mark Crossley posted: “Life can be so cruel at times.

“Absolutely devastated with news of my ex-Forest teammate Kevin Campbell’s passing, a true gent

leman, a great player, a shining light of a dressing room, fun-loving guy, thoughts are with all his family and friends.”

Campbell joined Forest in 1995, and although he was part of the team relegated from the Premier League two years later, he fired them back into the top-flight the following season.

After a spell at Turkish side Trabzonspor, he returned to England with Everton in March 1999, with his goals almost single-handedly rescuing the club from the drop.

Everton said: “Everyone at Everton is deeply saddened by the death of our former striker Kevin Campbell at the age of just 54.

“Not just a true Goodison Park hero and icon of the English game, but an incredible person as well - as anyone who ever met him will know.

“RIP, Super Kev.”

Kevin Campbell at Everton
Having become loved at Arsenal Campbell he ended up at Everton where he helped keep them up in 1999 before becoming a firm fan favourite at Goodison Park - PA/Nick Potts

Campbell went on to join West Bromwich Albion in January 2005, helping them to become the first club to avoid relegation having been bottom of the table at Christmas.

The Premier League said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Kevin Campbell, the former Arsenal, Nottingham Forest, Everton and West Brom striker.

“Our thoughts and condolences are with Kevin’s family, friends and those associated with the clubs he played for.”

England manager Gareth Southgate offered his condolences to Campbell as well as Millwall goalkeeper Matija Sarkic who also died earlier on Saturday, saying: “I know that some of our players and staff actually played and worked with Matija [Sarkic] as well so both pieces of news were received with shock and great sadness.

“Those boys who played with him are feeling that even more. Kevin is the same age as me and I remember him being in Arsenal’s youth team at the same time when I was playing and you play against each other through the years.

“Our thoughts are with his family. Some of the tributes have been fabulous. People who knew him better than I did talking about his fantastic character. So it is a very sad day.”