By Chris Harris
Sol Campbell will play a "big part" in Arsenal's push for honours in the final weeks of the season, according to Gael Clichy.
The centre back made a shock return to North London in January, nearly four years after his first spell at the Club ended with a goal in the Champions League Final in Paris in May 2006.
A top-flight comeback for Campbell looked fanciful when he kicked off the campaign in a Notts County shirt but the 35-year-old's intense work on the training pitches at London Colney convinced Arsène Wenger to resurrect his Arsenal career.
The football world raised a collective eyebrow when the deal was done but Clichy was not surprised to see Wenger take a chance on Campbell. He had seen first-hand the enduring qualities of the former England star.
"If I’m honest he’s been training with us for three months and I told him before he signed that I honestly believed it was the first time I’ve seen him that fit in training. He was really going for it," said Clichy, speaking at Arsenal in the Community's 25th birthday celebrations last Thursday.
"Sol is not the kind of guy who is going to run for 90 minutes like a left-back or a midfielder but he was really focused and professional. The way he played against Porto and the way he came in against Aston Villa showed that the guy is a great leader. We surely missed people like that and it’s great to have him back."
Campbell has already made five appearances since his return and rolled back the years with a vital away goal at Porto in the Champions League last month. Clichy says that the veteran defender is having a major impact off the pitch as well as on it.
"He is a big influence in the dressing room," said the Frenchman. "That’s what people say about experienced players and I think we have the best one.
"With Sol, he’s funny, he likes to make jokes, he doesn’t think too much of himself and on the pitch he is doing a great job. So that’s what you want from a player like him and I’m sure for the rest of the season he will play a big part."Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 4 Mar 2010