Former Chelsea and Fulham manager Bobby Campbell died at the age of 78 on Friday. Simon Johnson of the London Evening Standard broke the news, noting his strong connection with the Blues, one that lasted well beyond his time at the helm of the club:
Former club Portsmouth FC later confirmed the news via Twitter.
An England youth international during his playing days, Campbell established himself as a manager at Fulham and Portsmouth before taking the job with Chelsea.
At the time, the Blues were going through a rough patch, and Campbell was unable to save the club from relegation in 1988. He guided Chelsea to a dominant showing during the 1988-89 season, however, which saw the team gain 99 points on their way to the Division 2 title and promotion back to the top level of English football.
Chelsea finished in fifth place the next season, their highest finish in years, before another disappointing campaign brought an end to Campbell's tenure in 1991. He went on to coach in Saudi Arabia but kept in touch with the Blues, and after his career, he was a frequent guest at Chelsea's Cobham facilities and Stamford Bridge.
Former player David Lee was one of many to share his condolences:
Jody Morris remembered this anecdote:
Chelsea's fortunes have changed tremendously in the last 15 years, and for younger fans, it may be hard to remember a time where the Blues didn't contend for silverware on a yearly basis. But in many ways, Campbell laid the foundation for Chelsea's modern-day success. Per football writer Dan Levene, he signed a number of players who would go on to play big roles:
Campbell was relieved from his duties in 1991, but a number of the signings he made and plenty of youngsters he promoted became part of the core that reached the FA Cup final in 1994. The Blues would firmly establish themselves as one of London's top clubs in the years that followed, which ultimately led to Roman Abramovich's takeover in 2003.
Among his many signings was midfielder Dennis Wise, who would go on to become a cult hero at the club and played a pivotal role for the team that won the 1997 FA Cup.