Sven-Goran Eriksson, on Sunday, categorically denied Sol Campbell had been overlooked as England captain during his time in charge because he was black.
Campbell made the explosive allegation in his authorised biography, accusing the Football Association of being institutionally racist and claiming he would have held the armband for “more than 10 years” had he been white.
The 39-year-old, who captained England three times during his 73 caps, said the FA “didn’t want me to have a voice”. But Eriksson, who picked Campbell 32 times during his five years in charge of England, insisted the FA put no pressure whatsoever on him not to select the defender as captain.
“Not a chance – during my years, not a chance,” the Swede said. “As you know, from my first to my last game, I had David Beckham [as captain] and there were never, ever any discussions at all in the team or in the FA about the captain.”
Campbell said in his book, which has been serialised in The Sunday Times, that he was particularly upset that Michael Owen was asked to stand in for Beckham as captain on eight occasions under Eriksson. He said: “Owen was a fantastic forward but nowhere near being a captain. It was embarrassing. I kept asking myself, ‘What have I done?’ “I’ve asked myself many times why I wasn’t [made captain]. I keep coming up with the same answer. It was the colour of my skin.”
Eriksson, who picked Campbell as skipper on one occasion in 2005, was surprised to learn of his gripe, insisting the player never once approached him to complain.
The 66-year-old said his decision to appoint Beckham as captain when he took charge of England in 2001 was largely because he saw no need to reverse the selection of caretaker manager Peter Taylor from a friendly against Italy – in which Campbell did not play.
The FA has no plans to respond directly to Campbell’s allegations but its former executive director, David Davies said he was also “surprised” by the claims. “My belief is [the allegations] are wrong. I also have to say I am quite proud, along with a number of people of that era, of setting up [anti-discrimination watchdog] Kick It Out in football. Progress was made. I would love to talk to Sol about this story and this concern and this upset he has about why he wasn’t the England captain.