We recently sat down with new Rowdies midfielder Stuart Campbell to ask all sorts of questions, from how excited he is to play for the Rowdies to his first Gasparilla next month. Thanks to everyone who submitted questions on Facebook.
Here is what Stuart had to say:
Rowdies Midfielder Stuart Campbell
What do you know about the history of the Rowdies?
“I know quite a bit. Growing up, the Rowdies were known as a famous franchise over in England simply because of the amount of British players that came over to play such as Rodney Marsh. And when I looked into it even more, obviously Ricky Hill and Perry Van Der Beck played for them as well.”
Are you looking forward to the experience of playing American soccer?
“Yes, I am. I can’t wait. That was one of the key factors in the decision to come over and join the Rowdies. I had one or two other options to stay and play in England but the whole package over here: the challenge of coming and adapting to a new country and a new way of living, and playing against teams that I have never played against before and against players, stadiums I have never been to before. Those were some of the biggest attractions.”
Have you experienced playing before in the type of heat and humility here in Florida?
“In England, it doesn’t get nearly as hot. But the one thing I do have on my side is that my family and I are regular visitors to Florida, mainly in May and June. I know it is not as hot as July and August and the humidity is quite intense. I have done quite a bit of training over here and when I return from the holiday I want to be ready to get straight into training. It is going to be something that is new to me.”
What part of playing for the Rowdies are you looking forward to the most?
“I think the whole experience. Obviously it is a tremendous honor to come over here. They recently got the Rowdies name back, which was a big, big thing for the franchise. It is a club growing and I am privileged and honored to be part of it, and really, really looking forward to it.
What kind of specialty training are you going to do to prepare for Gasparilla?
“I will obviously have to get a bit of training in prior to that, taking part in Gasparilla. I hear it is a great party, and if I am allowed to go to it, it will be a great experience.”
Being an experienced player, will you look to tutor and give your advice to your teammates, especially the younger players?
“Obviously I have played quite a lot of games over in England and hopefully I will be able to pass on a little bit of experience and a bit of advice to the players, if and when they need it. If they want to come and talk about anything, it will be great. I love playing football and hopefully I can pass a little bit of that onto the younger players.”
Do you think that you will miss playing for Bristol?
“I had seven and a half great years there. It was a big part of my life; I enjoyed pretty much every minute of it. But now I am focused on being a Tampa Bay Rowdies player and I can’t wait for that to get started. I am counting down the days.”
Who was your favorite player growing up?
“Growing up when I was quite young, it was Bryan Robson, who was a center midfielder at Manchester United. And then when he retired, it went on to be Eric Cantona. He was a flamboyant player from Man United and he was a big, big influence on where Manchester United ended up now. It was those two players when I was growing up.”
Who has been the biggest influence on your professional career?
“I have to look at my family for the way they drove me about to all of the training sessions and the matches. And when I started with Leicester City; I joined them full-time from the age of 16, I was influenced by the youth team managers there, Tony McAndrew and Kevin MacDonald (brother of Rowdies owner Jeff MacDonald). They were a massive influence on me. They taught me about life really and helped me grow up. They were fantastic coaches; I think that's been reflected the way they left Leicester and went to Aston Villa and brought through a great crop of players there. From a professional point of view, it was them, but for life, it was my family for all of the help they gave me.”
This will be your first professional season where promotion and relegation will not be in play. Do you think that lessens the importance of what you are playing for?
“No, not at all. You are not playing just the regular season and that’s it. There is obviously the playoffs. You can win the actual league in the regular season and not end up winning the actual championship after the playoffs and the finals. It is going to be a new experience and as I said earlier, it is something I am really looking forward to.”
What have you heard about the Tampa Bay area?
“Nothing but good things. Every single person I have spoken to about the Tampa Bay area has told me what a great city, what a lovely place, how much we will love living there, and how much the family and the kids will enjoy it. I can honestly say that every single person I have spoken to has said nothing but nice things about the area, which is extremely reassuring for me.”
Have you met any of your teammates or coaches yet?
“I met the manager, (Head Coach) Ricky Hill, yesterday, and Perry Van Der Beck and Andrew Nestor as well. Regarding players, it is still relatively early in regards to that we are not due back for training until March 1. I haven’t had the chance to meet any of them yet, but I am really looking forward to meeting the lads and getting the season underway.”