Joel Campbell: Player Profile

Costa Rica’s Wonderkid 

Personal information
Full name: Joel Nathaniel Campbell Samuels 
Date of birth: 26 June 1992
Age: 21
Place of birth: San Jose, Costa Rica
Height: 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position: Forward / Winger

Club information
Current club: Olympiacos

Youth career 
2004–2009: Saprissa

Senior career 
2009–2011: Saprissa 2 Appearances, goals 0
2011 → Puntarenas (loan) 5 Appearances, goals 0
2011– Arsenal 0 Appearances, goals 0
2011–2012 → Lorient (loan) 25 Appearances, goals 3
2012–2013 → Real Betis (loan) 28 Appearances, goals 2
2013– → Olympiacos (loan) 32 Appearances, goals 8

National team 
2008–2009: Costa Rica U17 9 Appearances, goals 8
2010–2011: Costa Rica U20 13 Appearances, goals 10
2011– Costa Rica 34 Appearances, goals 10

Campbell has gone from anonymity at Olympiacos to a starring role for Costa Rica at the World Cup in just a few months. Campbell initially rose to prominence after scoring against Man United in February.
The name Joel Campbell isn’t one that was taken altogether seriously until February 25.

This was a youngster who had been signed speculatively by Arsene Wenger three years previously and one - via a trio of loan spells largely down to work permit issues - who wouldn’t be knocking on the first team door for a good while.

That was until he picked up a ball 30 yards from goal against Manchester United during that night in the Champions League last 16, to add more misery to the Red Devils’ season with a thunderous strike.

Eyebrows raised, eyes slightly widened; is this the man - farmed out to Greece after tricky spells with Real Betis and Lorient that Arsenal have been missing.

The answer already appears to be yes, given Wenger’s admittance that Campbell would be on his way back to the club for pre-season after three campaigns away. “He will definitely come back to us,” Wenger said after Costa Rica’s drubbing of Uruguay. “He is maturing well.”

The pacey attacker, who can operate in central or wide positions, has gained a wealth of experience since joining the Gunners from a club in his home country, during August 2011.

Shortly after his transfer was confirmed, he signed for Ligue 1 side Lorient on a season-long loan, impressing during his year in France and scoring three goals – including a winner against eventual champions Montpellier.

In the 2012/13 season, he enjoyed another loan stint – this time in Spain’s top flight, with Real Betis. He scored twice for the Seville-based side and impressed with a series of lively performances. But the Costa Rican mainly began to prove his worth in red and white, but at Olympiakos, not Arsenal.

After his debut Champions League goal against United, the 21-year-old Costa-Rican expressed a desire to return to his parent club for a shot in the Premier League.

He scored six goals in league play and impressed many during his time in the Champions League against the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Benfica and of course Man United. Campbell has also enjoyed considerable success at international level.

He excelled at under-17 and under-20 levels, bringing him to the attention of a number of top clubs before his move to north London.

Campbell has been Costa Rica’s star of this tournament thus far, scoring in that 3-1 win against Uruguay while putting in a more disciplined and resolute shift against the Italians with a 1-0 win.

The Costa Rican then troubled England's defence on Tuesday with rapid flourishes. In the goalless draw against England, Campbell demonstrated his qualities once more, nipping in before defenders Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill, bothering Luke Shaw with his direct running.

In a game that was played out at the tempo of a warm-weather pre-season training camp, there were very few at all out there that flirted, even fleetingly, with inspiration.

To his credit, for 65 minutes Campbell played, he did as much as any other player to break the stranglehold of tepid mediocrity that enveloped this match, darting in behind at every opportunity, shooting from distance when the opportunity presented itself, to help Costa Rica finish on top of the group of death in which they were favoured to bottom.

Costa Rica will now lock horns with Greece in the knockout stages and a lack of pace and protection has been the Greek’s undoing, although it’s debatable whether that obvious problem will be fixed in time for the round of 16. And then there is Campbell’s naivety of youth which is likely to trouble the full-backs. He sees no issue in neglecting his central station to go and have a roam wide.

Couple Campbell’s innocence with some blistering pace and confidence in possession and Greece may have some real problems on their hands. The only potential difficulty will be his ability, or otherwise, to heed strict instructions, although in the group games he seems adept at tracking back and helping the midfield five.

In this Costa-Rica team, Campbell is the go-to player, the one that is worshipped.  In this perfectly-oiled, intensely drilled side, Campbell’s ability is blended with adrenalin and a fervent national pride and he is a definite candidate to hopefully bring pride to his country this World Cup.