Premier League Career: Birmingham City (2005-2006), Blackpool (2010-2011), Queens Park Rangers (2011-2012)
Forward DJ Campbell played for three Premier League teams, experienced the heartache of relegation twice and actually experienced his most prolific scoring days in the non-league. Campbell did impress though in Blackpool’s one-season dalliance in the Premier League, scoring 13 goals in the 2010-2011 campaign.
Born in Hammersmith, Campbell started his career as a trainee at Aston Villa but failed to impress enough to get a professional deal. He went down into the non-league and came to prominence with a devastating spell at Yeading. He scored 83 times in 109 appearances in all competitions and managed to showcase his skills in a televised FA Cup tie with Newcastle United in 2005.
Brentford manager Martin Allen took a gamble on him in the summer of 2005, paying Yeading £5,000 and nine goals in 23 appearances was good returns for a player who was making a major jump upto League One level.
After scoring twice for the Bees to dump Premier League strugglers Sunderland out of the FA Cup in January 2006, DJ was sold to Birmingham City just three days after this fantastic moment for him personally. The Blues paid £500,000 for his services but he failed to score in the 11 appearances he made as Birmingham dropped out of the Premier League.
Campbell scored nine times in the 2006-2007 season as he helped Birmingham back to the top-flight at the first attempt but he was moved on by Steve Bruce that summer and spent the next three years with moves to Leicester City and loan periods at Derby County and Blackpool. It seemed like he’d finally found a settled home at the latter and Blackpool paid a club-record £1.25m to sign him permanently on transfer deadline day in August 2010.
In his first game as a permanent Blackpool player, he scored the second goal in a sensational 2-0 away win at St James’ Park against Newcastle United. He then went on to score matchwinning strikes away at Stoke City and Sunderland and a winner to send Liverpool FC crashing to a second league defeat of the season against the Tangerines. At this stage, Blackpool were punching well above their weight in mid-table. Unfortunately, they slid down the table and ended up going down. Campbell didn’t help their cause with a red card for violent conduct in a 4-0 defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
He moved to Queens Park Rangers in August 2011, joining the club he’d supported as a boy. Injuries restricted him to just 11 appearances, scoring once in an away win at Wolves. That was his final Premier League season. Campbell was loaned to Ipswich Town for the 2012-2013 campaign and went on to have spells with Blackburn Rovers, Millwall and Maidenhead United in the Conference South.
The latter part of DJ’s career was overshadowed by a spot-fixing scandal which saw him arrested in December 2013 along with five other men by the National Crime Agency. He was released without charge in August 2014 but it seriously damaged his relationship and love with the game of football.