Sol Campbell has been backed by boss Harry Redknapp and his Portsmouth teammates to lead Portsmouth into the second round group stage of the UEFA Cup - and show his detractors that bad mouthing cannot damage his enduring ability.
The 34-year-old former England veteran was subjected to major, if familiar, abuse from thousands of Tottenham fans who still cannot forgive him for joining arch-rivals Arsenal seven years ago.
So vitriolic and obscene was the verbal treatment he received throughout Portsmouth’s 2-0 win over Spurs at Fratton Park on Sunday that the Football Association have launched an investigation after police admitted they could not handle the mass verbal attack by making arrests for fear of sparking a riot.
Manager Redknapp described the abuse as “filthy” and added, ahead of tomorrow’s first round, second leg clash with Portugal’s Vitoria Guimaraes: “This kind of thing has no place in football, no place in life.
“Someone has got to do something about it, somebody has got to make a stand and if Sol wants to do that we are right behind him.
“Of course he is upset about it and we are all disappointed about what’s happened to him but he’ll be fine. He’ll move on and get on with his football. He’s been terrific for us.
“But I would like to see somebody do something because now there is too much of this around these days. It is way out of order.
“You can go to places and see people saying filthy things and making filthy signs, even though they have got kids with them. What sort of example is it to set kids? These people are just nutters.”
Pompey’s £11m striker Peter Crouch believes crowd abuse reached a new low with the treatment Campbell received.
He said: “There is probably not a player in the Premier League who has not had some stick but there is a difference between banter and abuse. What happened to Sol really crossed the line.
“But he showed against Tottenham on Sunday he can react with a fantastic performance. It has had no effect on his game and it won’t affect it in the future.”
Redknapp will again look to Campbell and centre-back partner Sylvain Distin to shore up Pompey’s defence again following the clean sheet on Sunday – which followed 10 goals conceded in the two previous games against Manchester City and Chelsea.
They have a two-goal cushion from the first leg and Redknapp insisted: “Although we know they (Vitoria) are still a dangerous side with great flair we have players who can cause them problems as well.
“We are certainly not coming here to sit back for 90 minutes and invite them on to us. That would be asking for trouble.
“It will be a tough game we know but we would love to get through this round at least and keep the excitement going for the fans.
“They’ve had a great time recently including winning the FA Cup last season and we want it to continue.”