DJ on track for Blackpool

DJ Campbell celebrates his third against Forest

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway admitted he is living his dream in the Barclays Premier League after yet another brilliant away day at Sunderland.

Resilient defending thwarted the Black Cats and secured the visitors a 2-0 win, which took the Seasiders to 25 points and lifted them into eighth place.

“2010 has been an absolute belter for everybody connected with the Holloway family and Blackpool because we have got a bit of a thing going and it is a nice fit and I am more than happy,” said the Seasiders boss after his side’s last match of the year.

“Ask any one of our fans who are now driving home how they feel about the place and how they feel about their club and how my lads are trying to play.”

It is fairly safe to say the Tangerine faithful would describe 2010 as incredible, which would also be an apt description of the turn in DJ Campbell’s fortunes.

This time last year the 28-year-old striker was at the 10th club of his career, having been farmed out on loan by Leicester to English Championship rivals Derby.

From then, though, Campbell enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence, netting 11 times during a loan spell at Bloomfield Road towards the back end of the 2009/10 season where he helped shoot Blackpool into the Barclays English Premier League.

Campbell’s imperious performances – including a hat-trick in the play-off semi-final second-leg clash with Nottingham Forest – saw Holloway plump for a permanent move for the striker in late August.

“I’ve wanted DJ so badly, I think he suits us and he is absolutely vital for this football club and the energy at this football club. Never is someone so well suited to come to a club as DJ is,” said the Blackpool boss after signing him.

“We would not be where we are today without his contribution last season

“We have some hard work to do to convince people that the boy will score at every level he plays in. But I am delighted to be working with him again.”

Such confidence has seen players previously on the periphery of lower league squads flourish under Holloway’s tutorship, with the likes of Luke Varney, Stephen Crainey and Charlie Adam playing with aplomb in the top flight.

And, despite the naysayers, Campbell has also come to the fore.

The Londoner has netted five EPL goals this season and was the driving force behind Blackpool’s victory at Sunderland, netting twice to secure his side’s fifth win on the road.

Campbell’s influence in the Premier League is proof that belief and hard work can pay dividends if individuals are given the chance.

Having failed to earn a professional contract with Aston Villa, the striker moved into non-league football at the start of the decade to ply his trade at Chesham United.

Spells with Stevenage, Billericay Town (loan) and Yeading followed, before impressive FA Cup performances and a Isthmian League Premier Division title with the latter earned him a move to Brentford in 2005.

Campbell impressed in English football’s third tier and was swiftly snapped up by Premier League club Birmingham just a year later for GBP500,000.

Having suffered relegation, the striker swiftly helped City back to the EPL at the first attempt before finding himself shipped out to Leicester for an initial fee of GBP1.6 million.

Campbell’s time with the big-spending side, though, was not a happy experience as City were relegated to the third tier and the striker struggled to secure himself a first-team berth.

As a result he was allowed out on loan and left playing reserve football, although his fortunes have improved rapidly in the north west with Blackpool.

This year Campbell has accrued a Championship play-off medal as well as the respect of his peers for overcoming adversity to ply his trade at the top of his game.

“I’m having the happiest time of my career and loving it,” he summed up. “It is a humbling experience to be here, somewhere you feel love and you return it back.”

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