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Footage resurfaces of the late Kevin Campbell telling hilarious story of his first impression of a 14-year-old Wayne Rooney, after the former England captain paid tribute to his ex-Everton team-mate following his death aged 54

A hilarious video clip from the late Kevin Campbell, in which he reveals his first impression of 14-year-old Wayne Rooney, has emerged following the death of the former Everton and Arsenal striker at the age of 54.

Campbell’s death was confirmed Saturday morning after a battle with illness. Rooney paid a heartfelt tribute to his former Toffees teammate, with the pair playing together for Everton’s first team between 2002 and 2004.

But Campbell previously spotted Rooney’s talent during a reserve game, despite admitting he initially had doubts about the striker.

“I got in the coach and I saw a kid with his ears out and everything,” Campbell told the newspaper UndrTheCosh podcast.

“And I thought he was a son or nephew of the coaching staff. I didn’t know who he was, he was a baby! So we go to the stadium, he’s in the locker room getting changed. I’m thinking, “What’s going on here?” Taffeta [former Everton reserve manager Andy Holden] just said “he’s starting”.

Kevin Campbell (below) and Wayne Rooney (above) played together for the Everton first team between 2002 and 2004

Kevin Campbell (below) and Wayne Rooney (above) played together for the Everton first team between 2002 and 2004

But Campbell revealed he had previously noticed Rooney's talent during a reserve match

But Campbell revealed he had previously noticed Rooney's talent during a reserve match

But Campbell revealed he had previously noticed Rooney’s talent during a reserve match

Campbell admitted that he initially thought Rooney was a relative of one of the coaches, but soon realized he was a great talent after playing alongside him.

Campbell admitted that he initially thought Rooney was a relative of one of the coaches, but soon realized he was a great talent after playing alongside him.

Campbell admitted that he initially thought Rooney was a relative of one of the coaches, but soon realized he was a great talent after playing alongside him.

WARNING – EXPLICIT LANGUAGE

‘I just looked at Andy, I said, “What the fuck?!” We’re playing Southport, guys. I said, “Where is he playing?” He said, “He’s playing up front with you.” I said “b******”! He said: “Kev, treat him like you would treat a first-team player”.

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‘So I’m warming up and stuff, I said ‘he ain’t got a bad touch on him’, pinged a few balls. I thought, “Okay, okay, we’ll see.” The game’s on, the hat’s coming off, buddy. At fourteen I’d never seen anything like it, mate. Football brain, touch, strength, pace. They tried to hit him and just bounced off him.

“I thought, what the hell is this?” He is 14 years old! He bounces big, uncompetitive, hairy center halves, he bounces them, spins them up and plays one-twos. He scored two goals in the first half. He’s got the ball, he’s passed to me, I’ve put him in space, he’s past them, bang, bottom corner. I looked at Taf. He said, “I told you!”

Campbell continued to wax lyrical about Rooney, revealing he sat on the bench in the second half instead of showering after being taken off so he could see more of the prodigious talent.

‘I scored one, he stabbed me, eye of a needle. What can’t he do? Damn hell! Then he smashes his way through the next, bang, top corner,” Campbell said.

‘I [go and] Sit on the bench, mate, because what I see… They’re moving him from striker to wide left. While you were spraying balls like you wouldn’t believe, I looked at Taff, Taff looked at me, and we both just shook our heads.”

Campbell came through the Arsenal academy and played alongside some of the country’s best talent in the late 1980s.

But when asked if anyone was compared to Rooney when he first came on the scene, Campbell simply repeated ‘no’, causing the podcast hosts to burst out laughing.

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Campbell admitted he couldn’t wait to tell his senior teammates about Rooney in training the next day, as he warned them the youngster’s potential was ‘bloody scary’ and that he was capable of making consecutive first-team appearances team to come. away.

His team-mates laughed at Campbell’s suggestion but he was confident Rooney would shine as he added: ‘You heard it from me, this boy is special. I’ve never seen anything like him before.’

Rooney paid a heartfelt tribute to Campbell on X after his death on Saturday

Rooney paid a heartfelt tribute to Campbell on X after his death on Saturday

Rooney paid a heartfelt tribute to Campbell on X after his death on Saturday

Ian Wright was also visibly emotional as he paid tribute to former teammate Campbell on TV

Ian Wright was also visibly emotional as he paid tribute to former teammate Campbell on TV

Ian Wright was also visibly emotional as he paid tribute to former teammate Campbell on TV

Campbell’s assessment turned out to be accurate: Rooney became captain of his country and became England’s most capable outfield player.

He also held the goalscoring record until he was overtaken by Harry Kane last year, while he made a big move to Manchester United in 2004 and went on to win five Premier League titles and the Champions League with the Red Devils.

Campbell’s admiration for Rooney was evident after just one half of football, and the respect was mutual.

Rooney posted a photo of himself on Campbell’s shoulders during their Everton days on X shortly after news of his death broke, writing: ‘Absolutely devastated to hear the news about Kev.

‘I think of all his family and friends. Kev was a great teammate, but more importantly, a brilliant person who helped me a lot in my early years.”

Tributes were also paid to the hugely popular Campbell on Saturday, with Ian Wright fighting to hold back tears as he discussed his relationship with his ex-Arsenal teammate during ITV’s coverage of Spain’s Euro 2024 match against Croatia.

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