By 90Min
March 24, 2018

Everton fans have a strong affiliation to the men that lead their forward line.

From Duncan Ferguson to Wayne Rooney, Nikica Jelavic to Tim Cahill and Romelu Lukaku - though not to much the last of those recently - the Goodison faithful's relationship with their goalscorers is one that few clubs can rival.

There is one former star who, above all else, has meant more to me than any other though, and that is Kevin Campbell.

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It is fitting, then, that it is now 19 years since he rocked up on Merseyside, initially on a three-month loan deal from Turkish side Trabzonspor, and was tasked with firing in the goals to prevent Everton from falling out of the Premier League at the third time of asking.

The Toffees had already survived by the skin of their teeth on two separate occasions around that time and, with the games running out to maintain their historic top flight status, Campbell was drafted in to prevent their relegation.

Nine goals from eight appearances later and, suffice to say, the former Arsenal trainee had done his job.

'Super Kev' would go on to sign for Everton in a £3m deal from Trabzonspor that same summer, captain the side on numerous occasions and bag a not-too-shabby 45 goals in 146 appearances across five-and-a-half seasons.

That goal haul included the last strike in a Blues' win across Stanley Park at Anfield in September 1999 - Everton haven't won on Liverpool's patch since - but it isn't Campbell's scoring record that means he'll always be an Everton hero of mine.

Back in 1999 I was only 11 years of age, and had only really been an avid follower of football for three years. It was Euro 96 that captured my imagination despite having a passing interest in football as a child younger than 10, but that's by the by.

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Campbell proved to be a shining light for all Evertonians who had gotten used to the Toffees struggling to survive in England's top flight, and provided some relief to all who saw him play on the hallowed Goodison turf.

For me, however, Campbell was the first Everton player that I truly looked up to. I had witnessed Everton lift the 1995 FA Cup - our last trophy no less - but it was, again, a passing 'huzzah' rather than a 'I can't believe that!' moment.

Campbell gave me plenty of those. That Anfield winner, his brace in my Goodison outing in the 4-1 win over Charlton in May 1999, his hat-trick in the 6-0 demolition of West Ham, his match-winning two-goal haul against Middlesbrough and his final league game in the win over Portsmouth one day before his free transfer switch to West Brom.

They are all memories that I'll cherish from when being an Evertonian saw you mocked on the playground at school. I hope he brought joy to other Blues fans too.

Happy Everton anniversary, Kevin, and thank you for the memories.

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