He’s the first one in the gym and the last one out – mention the name Allan Campbell to anyone who’s been at Motherwell over the last four or five years, and that’s what they’ll say.
It’s a statement Campbell has turned into reality, his work ethic and talent earning him a move to English Championship club Luton Town, coming after 160 Motherwell appearances by his 23rd birthday. Alongside former teammates like David Turnbull and James Scott, Campbell has been a shining example of Motherwell academy success.
Former manager Stephen Robinson said he wanted 11 Campbell’s in his team and new Motherwell boss Graham Alexander has said it’s an unenviable task to replace him. Speaking to NTOF about his move to Luton, Campbell says the time was right for something new, having been with the cinch Premiership club for more than half of his life.
The midfielder said: “It’s been a bit hectic and a bit different. It’s very exciting as everything is new. I’ve been ready for a change and the next step in my career. We have started pre-season so I have been back at it. It’s getting harder and harder!
“I’ve done the Luton kit launch and things like that too. I just want to help out in any way I can, on and off the park. Things off the park will probably be the most difficult thing. I was still living at home with my mum and dad. I’m a family man and have always been close to them, but my girlfriend has come down with me, so that makes it easier.
“My parents will be down to watch me as much as they can. I’ve been ready for this for a while now so it’s just exciting to get down here. We are about 20 minutes from London so it’s nice to have that on your doorstep. It’s just a wee bit away from home! The more my parents are here watching me the better, I just want to make them proud.
“I’ll be doing doing lots of extra work during pre-season. I wanted to come down to the Championship and play as that’s the next step for me, I think. I spoke to the manager (Nathan Jones) and he has ambition for me. He wants to improve the club, but he wants to make me a better player too. That was a big thing, but there’s tough competition.”
He’s been ready for some time, but Campbell could have moved south in January. Motherwell rejected a bid from an unnamed English team as Alexander fought to keep the Lanarkshire club in the Premiership, eventually doing that comfortably. Campbell was a big part of the successful survival bid and his mentality was never in question.
He continued to battle on the park as he always has – with Campbell aware interest would come up again if he continued to perform: “It was a bit weird. I have never experienced that before. The manager came in and told me where they stood on the bid.
“All I was focused on was playing. Whenever you are playing, you have a point to prove, so that was my mindset. Somebody is always there to watch you. I continued to show what I’m about. It was a bit strange to experience that but I knew that if I kept performing, someone would come and get me in the summer.
“There’s no point playing regularly for three or four years at Motherwell and not getting a chance. That was one of the main things about coming here, I can fight for a place here, instead of being nowhere near it elsewhere.
“I don’t feel as if I am just going to float about down here. I feel like I am going to develop as a person and a player. This is the right environment for me to try and kick on. Luton are a really ambitious club so I want to show them what I am all about.”
Football is evolving and sports science is now a big part of the modern game. Luton Town have made an immediate impression on Campbell in that regard, nutrition, diet and careful fitness planning all reasons why the midfielder should be able to breeze through the gruelling EFL fixture schedules.
Andy Boles is head of sports science at Motherwell and perhaps isn’t the first name you think of when speaking about player success. But Campbell credits his behind the scenes work as a key reason for his success at Fir Park.
Campbell explained: “They are all athletes down here! The standard has been good so it’s exciting for me to see where I can improve myself, working with the new sport scientists and coaches. They are really on their sports science. It’s really good and there’s lots of staff in that department at Luton. We have identified things I can improve on.
“I want to improve myself on and off the park. Andy Boles was brilliant with me at Motherwell. He was the one who really matured me into a first-team player. Now it’s new people, fresh ideas, and seeing what you can improve upon.”
Campbell leaves Motherwell as they fully embark on a new era under Alexander. It’ll be the former Scotland international’s first full season in charge of the Fir Park club and a big part of his summer remit will be to fill the Campbell-shaped hole in his team. The Luton Town signing will always be thankful for their short time together.
That’s despite the fact Alexander’s wardrobe perhaps isn’t up to his high standards: “I got on really well with Graham and he’s given me a lot of help, so I really hope he does well. I did notice though that every Saturday he would come into the changing room with a new AllSaints number. Each to their own I suppose, everybody has a different taste!
“It was a big change we needed at the time. I think it helped and the boy’s really got together, especially those who perhaps hadn’t been playing as much. It was a fresh start to impress a new manager. We finished the season really strongly.”
A new frontier awaits Campbell now, but lessons on and off the park in Lanarkshire will be taken with him to Luton. Challenges await him and a lifestyle shift is on the go away from home, but he’s excited about the prospect of battling with Premier League-quality players. Their ankles might be sore after a visit from the ‘Lanarkshire Kante.’
Motherwell provided him a stage to showcase his talent, and Campbell will always be thankful: “I had a great time and played 160 games for Motherwell. My first goal was to get into the team, then it was to stay in the team. It was then about playing a full season and thankfully I’ve had the chance to play so many games at a young age.
“It’s stood me in good stead as a player and person and I can’t thank Motherwell enough for that platform. There’s pictures of me about the club though when I was much younger! But I think it’s good for those things to be about the place as it shows people who’s come through the ranks and made it.
“Motherwell are great for bringing players through. David Turnbull, Jake Hastie, James Scott, Barry Maguire is breaking through now. I think it’s great for the younger guys to see we were U10s at one stage and managed to break through.
“Everything was a bit strange when I left, I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet. You get used to change but it was sad to say goodbye to lots of familiar faces. It’s weird not seeing them everyday but I am still in regular contact with everyone at Motherwell. But this was the next step for me, and a great one.”
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