Basking in the limelight

There were initial problems adjusting to the pace of the Premier League but Ivan Campo came into his own once he moved into a defensive midfield slot at his club, Bolton Wanderers, writes Andy Hampson.

Ivan Campo, a former Real Madrid and Spain defender, now playing in a deep midfield role, has been a key figure in the re-emergence of Bolton Wanderers as one of England's leading clubs in recent years.

Campo, a comfortable defender, was born in San Sebastian, in the Basque country. He began his footballing career with the small club Deportivo Logrones in northern Spain. He progressed through their junior ranks before moving to Alaves for a season in 1994.

He signed for Real Valladolid in 1995 and made his Primera Liga debut with them in December that year. He made 24 appearances and scored two goals for the club before moving on to Valencia after just one season.

Opportunities at Valencia, however, proved few and far between and he played just seven games before joining second division Mallorca. The move paid dividends as it allowed him the chance to start playing regularly again and recover his composure. Such was his progress that after just one year with the Balearic Island club, in which time he played 33 times and broke into the Spanish national side, he was snapped up by Real Madrid in 1998.

It was the right time to step back up to the top level and he finally found the stability he had been searching for at the Bernabeu. He spent four years there and became a key member of the team. The club won one Primera Liga title and two UEFA Champions Leagues during his time there.

In 2002, however, with the `Galactico' regime in full swing, Real deemed Campo surplus to requirements. Offers in Spain would not have been in short supply and it came as a surprise when he agreed to join Bolton on loan.

It was an audacious signing by Bolton boss Sam Allardyce but the move paid off handsomely. There were initial problems adjusting to the pace of the Premier League but Campo came into his own once he moved into a defensive midfield slot.

Campo helped Bolton survive in the Premier League and decided he liked the club so much he wanted to join them permanently. He signed a three-year deal which was later extended and the club have gone from strength to strength since, finishing eighth, sixth and eighth.

Bolton are enjoying some of the best years in their history under Allardyce after decades in the wilderness of the lower divisions.

Campo's ability and experience have been important to their success of recent seasons but in 2004 he suffered an horrific injury which threatened to de-rail his progress.

He suffered a clash of heads with team-mate Gary Speed in a win against Crystal Palace and was left with two huge gashes around his eye. He was rushed to hospital and it was initially feared that he had fractured his eye socket and he would need plastic surgery.

Thankfully, however, the injury was not as bad as it first looked and Campo was back in action within a few weeks.

Campo is married and has settled in the north west of England in all bar one respect. According to recent reports, he still travels back to Madrid to have his distinctive curly mop of hair cut. Campo's hairstyle has helped him earn cult status among Bolton fans.

Campo drives a Ferrari F360 Spyder, a sleek two-door convertible. It has a top speed of 185mph and is capable of doing 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds. It is an impressive looking car that costs well over GBP100,000.

FACTFILE

Name: Ivan Campo Position: Defender/midfielder Club: Bolton Wanderers DOB: 21/02/74 Spain Caps: 4 Spain Goals: 0 Spain debut: v Sweden, March 1998 Moment to remember The highlight of Campo's career was undoubtedly featuring in the 2000 UEFA Champions League final at the Stade de France. Campo played the full 90 minutes as Real ran out 3-0 winners over Valencia with goals from Fernando Morientes, Steve McManaman and Raul. Moment to forget Campo had a difficult time settling in at Bolton and initially looked out of place and incapable of coping with the English Premier League. He was famously branded a 'clown' by TV pundit Rodney Marsh, the former England and Manchester City player, because of his apparent lack of awareness and his looks (i.e. his hair). He soon put aside any doubts and settled to become one of the side's most influential players.

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