Campbell: Gary Neville was brilliant for me

Wednesday 18 January 2023 12:52

Former Manchester United forward Fraizer Campbell has explained the positive impact that Reds legend Gary Neville had on him as a young player, during his recent UTD Podcast appearance.

Speaking to our official club podcast co-hosts David May, Helen Evans and Sam Homewood in a brand-new episode that you can listen to in the United App now, Campbell goes into detail about his days at Old Trafford, including the influence that the more senior players had on him.

Gary was one of the most experienced members of Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad at the time that Fraizer first began to get a taste of life at the top level – making all four of his Reds appearances between 2007 and 2008 – and Campbell told us about something Neville did for him that still particularly stands out. 

Fraizer Campbell – "Three minutes that changed my life"


In this episode UTD Podcast co-hosts Helen Evans, Sam Homewood and David May catch up with academy graduate Fraizer Campbell at Carrington Training Complex. Fraizer shares his journey through the youth system, talking about the stresses involved when signing his first professional contract, as well as the disappointment at witnessing his close friends failing to make it. Despite being a Yorkshire boy, Fraizer tells us that the dream was always to play for Manchester United. He even managed to convert his dad from a Leeds fan to a red! Fraizer tells us about his loan spells at other clubs and reveals an extraordinary story of how he had three minutes to decide his future and help Manchester United sign Dimitar Berbatov. He’s also very honest about his heart-breaking long-term injury problems, which included two anterior cruciate ligament tears back-to-back. If that’s not enough, Fraizer also talks about his England debut and the birth of his daughter, which amazingly happened at exactly the same time!

“For me, he was brilliant,” Fraizer said. “I think, when I was 16 or 17, I was doing really well in the games and he was like: ‘Fraiz, you’ve done well in the last 10, 15 games, do you want me to go and speak to the manager and get you a better deal?’ 

“I was like: ‘Is this a trick question?’ Why would I say no to that? 

“So, he actually went in and got me a new deal, him and the gaffer might have been in cahoots or whatever, but it felt like he was looking out for me. He was great to be around as a young player.”
Loans at Royal Antwerp, Hull City and Tottenham Hotspur allowed Campbell to get more experience of professional football, prior to the start of the 2009/10 campaign, but regular playing time in a settled place was something he was eager to have, to continue developing.

Fraizer says that he wanted to keep his head down and work hard throughout his time at United, rather than raising the situation with Ferguson, but would seek advice from a senior team-mate in Neville.

“My thought process was that I wanted to go somewhere and play football. If it was a decent loan, I would have done it, but the thought, for me, was that the first team at United was doing so well, I probably needed to get out and find another route to playing.

“We went away on a pre-season tour, you’re playing but I’m looking at the people in front of me and thinking: ‘Am I going to stay for another couple of months and get shipped out again?’ I wanted to go somewhere and play some football. 

“I think we got the plane back from the tour, [I was] with Gary Neville and, at this point, there was talk of clubs offering for me and I said: 'What do you think I should do? I want to play but I haven’t really been around the first team enough'.

“Every time I was here, everyone was fit and, every time I went on loan, everyone got injured. I think one of the times I was on loan, [Federico] Macheda was playing. I was buzzing for him, but, at the same time, I was thinking there were five guys ahead of him that have got injured and he’s got a chance and done really well with it. I didn’t want to be doing that, so I spoke to Gaz and he was saying yeah [go and play football].”

UTD Podcast: ‘I had minutes to decide’


Fraizer Campbell reveals a ultimatum from Sir Alex with Dimitar Berbatov’s Reds transfer on the line.

Campbell would eventually make the decision to join Sunderland in the summer of 2009, managed at the time by former Red Steve Bruce. 

As a boyhood United fan, and having come through the ranks at the club, Fraizer says it was tough to leave but he was determined to keep pushing himself.

“The dream was to play for Man United, but the main important thing was to play at the highest level possible.

“You always have those memories but, for me as a footballer, I needed to go and make a name for myself. 

“Steve was a great manager, he had a good reputation, he told me ambitions of the players he was going to sign. He had Kieran [Richardson] there, Wes [Brown] and Sheasy [John O’Shea] came there, Jonny [Evans] had been there, Simmo [Danny Simpson] had been there, I knew a lot of lads that had been there that talked about the family feel. 

“It was an exciting time for me to go up there, play in the Premier League and try to make a name for myself.”

You can listen to Fraizer Campbell’s full UTD Podcast episode now in the United App.