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Controversial NI striker Bobby Campbell dies, aged 60

By Jim Gracey

Published 16/11/2016

Colourful: Bobby Campbell
Colourful: Bobby Campbell

Controversial former Northern Ireland striker Bobby Campbell has died in England at the age of 60. He had recently undergone lung surgery. Born and raised on the Rathcoole estate, outside Belfast, he made headlines throughout his career and beyond, not always for his football exploits.

He is in the record books as Bradford City's all-time record scorer with 143 goals over two spells, including 121 in the league. He was also on the field of play on the tragic day in 1985 when 56 fans died in the Bradford stadium fire disaster.

But his colourful life was also punctuated by brushes with authority and the law, most recently being cleared of charges of defrauding a Huddersfield social club where he had worked as a bar steward.

Gravel-voiced Campbell won only two Northern Ireland caps and was a member of Billy Bingham's revered 1982 World Cup squad in Spain.

But he wasn't picked for any of Northern Ireland's games at the Finals and was only included in the squad following a public clamour for an Irish FA ban on his selection to be lifted in the light of his goalscoring exploits at the time with Bradford.

Campbell had been frozen out by the IFA following an incident involving a crash in a stolen car while on youth team duty in Switzerland in 1975.

But he went on to earn legend status at Bradford who paid this tribute: "Whether you knew Bobby well or only watched him from the touchline, overheard him dominate a room full of former players or simply heard the many tales others would tell about him, there can be no doubt of his legendary status.

"Thank you for the great memories Bobby and we look forward to recognising your life and achievements at the appropriate time."

Campbell also had spells with Huddersfield, Sheffield United, Halifax Town, Vancouver Whitecaps, Brisbane City, Derby County and Wigan Athletic.

Spain '82 squad mate Norman Whiteside last night lamented his passing, describing Campbell as 'a footballer of the old school'.

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