It may have been just a place among the substitutes but in the wake of Arsenal's Champions' League triumph over Juventus, Sol Campbell claimed that his own rehabilitation was now almost complete.
The 31-year-old defender also revealed that he received reassurances from Sven Goran Eriksson that his inclusion in England's World Cup squad was guaranteed - as long as he plays before the end of the season. "Sven came to the training ground and saw myself and Ashley [Cole]," Campbell said. "He reassured us but I need a couple of games under my belt and there's still enough time."
Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said after the quarter-final tie that his team's hectic fixture schedule will ensure Campbell is soon be back in his team. "I feel fine," Campbell said. "I'm here now, training and feeling good so I'm ready and waiting for my chance. Everything is sorted."
That was in reference to his extraordinary walk-out after being substituted at half-time in the defeat against West Ham when Wenger later revealed that the defender was troubled and needed time away from the game.
Campbell would not go into details as to exactly what problems he has faced - "everything was getting on my nerves but that has cleared up now," was as far as he would go - and also expressed irritation into what he feels has been intrusion into his private life.
"I've been frustrated," he said. "I just want to play football. I'm a little bit tired of people carrying on with their stupid little games. Just let me get on with my football.
"For whatever reason, people want to say things and say what they want to say. I'm just going to concentrate on my football now and that's the main thing. I feel relaxed about the whole situation. I'm training, I feel relaxed about being in and around the club. It's all sorted. Everything's OK. "
He said he appreciated the support he had received. "The other lads have been fantastic and the manager has been good, too. He's been totally understanding about my position and mature enough to understand it."
Campbell's injury worries have always been a cause for concern, not least for the player himself who has often found that setbacks have played upon his mind. This time it certainly appears that Wenger has given him ample time to recover.
"Day by day it's got better, been fine. I've got stronger and stronger physically too, so it's been good," Campbell said. "I feel good about myself and it's good when you know that you're injury-free and able to do what you want to do on the pitch."
Arsenal's progress into the semi-finals of the European Cup have also been a source of encouragement. "Everyone has played a part in the Champions' League campaign and it gives me something to aim for," Campbell said. "Everyone is playing well. We need to keep it going and it's been good to be around it."
It has also helped him set personal goals - as does the imminent World Cup. "It's a massive tournament and we have a massive chance of winning it so of course that's keeping me going," Campbell said of being selected for the tournament in Germany. "It's a good target for me. I've had a couple of injuries which have pegged me back a bit, but I've sorted out a lot of things. My health and my injuries are good."
First of all Campbell has to regain his place in the Arsenal team, although Wenger has intimated that he will soon rest Philippe Senderos. "I'll wait for my time - simple as that. It's not a problem for me at all," said Campbell who, not so long ago was regarded as the pivotal figure of Arsenal's defence, a position that has since been assumed so powerfully by Kolo Touré.
* Reports last night claimed that Arsenal will make a £5m summer move for West Bromwich centre-half Curtis Davies, increasing the pressure on Campbell's position at the club.Reuse content