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Craig Bellamy

Craig Bellamy
Norwich Career: 1997-2000 (84 appearances, 32 goals)
Current Club: Cardiff City (Academy Coach)
Date of Birth: 13/07/1979
Nationality: Welsh

Biography

On 16th August 2000, Norwich City fans were greeted again by the news that their star player and great hope for the new season had been transferred. Coventry City nipped ahead of Spurs, Newcastle and Wimbledon to offer 6.5million for the signature of Craig Bellamy. Bellamy had expressed an interest to move on, rejecting a new improved contract and was keen to join Gordon Strachan. With the future of the existing transfer system in question, Norwich's board were keen to grab a club record fee to alleviate their debts

Born in Cardiff on 13th July 1979, Craig emerged through the Norwich City youth set-up to make his debut for the Canaries at Crystal Palace on 15th March 1997. Craig had a successful 1997/98 season. He became a first team regular with 38 appearances in total, scored 13 goals and gained his first Welsh international cap in the friendly clash with Jamaica. Craig had already become Wales' youngest Under-21 international gaining his first U21 cap against San Marino at the age of 16. He was Wales' fifth youngest cap for the full team. A confident almost arrogant player who has compared himself to Juninho, Craig quickly came to the attention of other clubs with Crystal Palace submitting a £1 million transfer bid. July 1998 brought rumours that he was a target for Portuguese giants Benfica. Craig scored the winner for Wales away to Denmark on 10th October 1998 adding to his recognition and to his future value should Norwich decide to cash in on his talents. Although he missed two months of 1998/99 through injury inflicted by Wolves defender Kevin Muscat, Craig finished the season with 17 goals in 38 appearances.

Injury struck again with Craig missing most of 1999/2000 through a knee injury sustained at the pre-season friendly with Southend. He returned to a Norwich shirt for the Reserves' victory over Cambridge on 10th April 2000. Craig has also ventured into cyberspace with the launch of his own website www.craigbellamy.co.uk. His rehabilitation was completed when he made his first first team appearance of the season, coming on as a substitute for Gaetano Giallanza in the goalless draw with Port Vale at Carrow Road. His return immediately generated transfer speculation with Middlesbrough boss Bryan Robson supposedly watching Bellers at the clash between Norwich and Barnsley on Easter Monday. However Bellamy dismissed this stating that Robson was supposedly watching Barnsley centre back Chris Morgan. Craig, along with teammate Iwan Roberts and former Canary Andy Johnson were called up into the Wales squad for the clash with Brazil on 23rd May 2000 but only played as a substitute. He however was more impressive partnering Iwan Roberts against Portugal in the 3-0 defeat the following week.

In late June 2000, Craig was linked with a 6million move to Newcastle whose new chief scout Charlie Woods had watched Bellamy whilst Woods was at Tottenham. Craig was also linked with a move to Celtic which the Canaries dismissed. The Newcastle connection arose again in the first week of August 2000 with Craig seen as a replacement for Everton-bound Duncan Ferguson. Wimbledon were also said to be keen with a 3million bid rejected - ironically this source of money coming from the sale of Carl Cort to Newcastle. Tottenham sounded out the Canaries with a 4million offer to replace Ginola with the young Welshman but none of these bids matched the valuation of the Norwich City board, allowing Coventry to spend half of the money they received from Inter Milan for Robbie Keane.

Failure to impress at Highfield Road with only 3 goals by December 2000 (2 of which were penalties) saw Norwich make an audacious offer to re-sign Craig or more accurately cancel some of the debt that Coventry owed Norwich. With Coventry facing relegation, Bellamy showed his ambitions had no limits as he stated on 30th April 2001 that he would want to leave Coventry if they were relegated as he could not face playing in Division One again. If this happened, a move to the North East of England would be on the cards with Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Sunderland all rumoured to be watching developments despite Craig's inability to score regularly for the Sky Blues. With Coventry's relegation to Division One on 5th May, Craig had to seriously re-evalutate his options but Norwich fans were hoping for a big money move as the Canaries wouldl receive a share of any future transfer.

The weekend of 23/24 June saw last season's transfer speculation repeat itself with Bellamy lined up for a 6m move to Newcastle. This time, the rumours were more substantial and Bellamy was on Tyneside undertaking a medical. Newcastle turned to Craig after they lost out on Francis Jeffers (to Arsenal) and Michael Bridges (not for sale). Everything went according to plan and Craig transferred for 6million, suiting Coventry who needed to offload some of their heavy wage earners following relegation.

Bellamy quickly formed an effective striking partnership with Alan Shearer and their goals took Newcastle into genuine contention for the Premiership title or a Champions League place. Depsite injury ruling him out of the last few weeks of the season, it was reported on 26th March 2002 that Italian side Roma were hoping to add Bellers to their squad for 2002/03. Craig's form saw him win the prestigious PFA Young Player of the Year award in April 2002, beating the likes of Steven Gerrard.

It was mixed fortunes for Craig at the beginning of the 2002/03 season. Poor initial form in the Premiership and Champions League was further marred by a European sending-off. However scoring the winning goal in Wales' historic 2-1 victory over Wales on 18th October 2002 will help make things better. Soon afterwards, the Sunday People claimed on October 27th 2002 that Manchester United had been watching Belamy with the hope of signing him to "fill the hole" behind their strikers.

After Bellamy's two strikes against Feyernoord took Newcastle into the second round of the European Champions League, his value to the club soared. Fear of losing him to Man United saw Newcastle offer him a five year, £40000 per week deal worth £10m according to The People (November 17th 2002). Serious discipline problems on and off the pitch in March 2003 led to newspaper speculation that Newcastle would cash in on their young talent rather than see him risk his career and transfer value. A £15million move to Old Trafford was mentioned.

Craig has always been plagued with injuries and endured further damage to his knee whilst playing for Wales in the autumn of 2003. This means he will miss 4months of the season following surgery. It was suggested that Bobby Robson had advised Craig to abandon his international career so he had to play fewer games. However both parties retreated from this position with Craig indicating he had no plans to retire from the international scene.

In October 2004, Crag had a bust-up with new Newcastle manager Graeme Souness. As a result Celtic were reported to have made an enquiry about Bellamy's availability and according to the News of the World (24/10/04), were preparing a £5million bid in the January 2005 transfer market. Bellamy is seen by Martin O'Neill as a replacement for Henrik Larsen who joined Barcelona in the summer of 2004. Birmingham City have also been linked with a swoop for Bellamy with a figure of £6million being quoted.

Another bust-up with Souness in January 2005 which saw both parties accused on lying saw Bellamy's future career at Newcastle looking vulnerable. His deceit saw bellamy fined 2weeks wages and a refusal to apologise to Souness makes his future career at St James Park look difficult. Although Aston Villa, Tottenham, Liverpool and Athletico Madrid were linked with him, only Stoke made an offer to take him on loan to the Brittania Stadium. Magpies chairman Freddy Shepherd admits he has not had clubs beating a path to his door, with only a tentative loan enquiry, believed to be from Championship club Stoke, being fielded by Newcastle. "There has not been one major club express any interest in him whatsoever. If something does happen in that respect, then we'll consider the offer or offers. But nobody is kicking my door down and the fax machine is quiet. He's damaged his reputation, hopefully not beyond repair... "Time is a great healer and if Craig moves on, so be it. But as far as his Newcastle career is concerned, it will be very, very difficult."

Although Birmingham had a £5million bid accepted, this was rejected by Bellamy. On Transfer Deadline day (January 31st 2005), Craig signed on loan for Martin O'Neill's Celtic.

In May 2005, Craig was linked moves to Birmingham, Blackburn, Everton and Aston Villa. By July 1st, the situation had not resolved itself with Bellamy due to rejoin Newcastle for pre-season training. Two days later, the News of the World reported that Everton were finalising a £5million deal whilst The People claimed that Newcastle were in talks with Celtic to complete a transfer and avoid embarassment. Surprisingly he signed for Blackburn Rovers for £5m on 7th July 2005 although Birmingham had a £5m bid submitted and rejected. Bellamy agreed to join Rovers as they are managed by former Wales manager Mark Hughes.

 

Bellamy's impressive form in the Premiership for Blackburn in 2005/6 (he finished the season with 17 goals) led to speculation on 9th April 2006 that two Champions League sides would be seeking to sign him. The People reported that Liverpool and Chelsea were both interested but that Blackburn would expect "silly money" for Bellamy. The News of the World also linked Bellamy with Chelsea. This though could only be £6million according to a News of the World claim on 16th April 2006 that Craig has a £6million get-out clause in his contract. Bellamy was linked with a switch to Martin Jol's Spurs by The Times on 12th May 2006. The following day, he was linked by The Sun with a move to Liverpool as he is said to be heading Benitez' shopping list alongside Darren Bent. On 28th May 2006, The People suggested that Tottenham were viewing Bellamy as a replacement for Jermain Defoe who was likely to join either :Liverpool or Chelsea, whilst on the same day the News of the World linked Bellamy with a move to Liverpool.

On 22nd June 2006, Craig completed his transfer to Liverpool, passing a medical to complete a £6million transfer with Craig on a four year deal at Anfield. Bellamy told the Reds website: "The fact that it was Liverpool made it impossible for me to turn them down. As I'm a fan, it doesn't matter what club I was at. I could never turn Liverpool down." His signing was welcomed by Reds striker Robbie Fowler who said "He's an excellent player, who will give an extra dimension to the squad. Craig is quick, a nightmare for defenders to mark, never gives anything up and knows how to score goals. If we are going to overhaul Chelsea, we need plenty of competition for places and Craig's arrival will keep us all on our toes."

Bellamy, who took a pay cut to join his boyhood idols, scored on his first appearance for the Reds - a 2-0 pre-season victory at Wrexham on 15th July 2006. He also scored in his full first-team debut in the 2-1 win over Maccabi Haifa in a European Champions League qualifier on 9th August 2006.

During the autumn of 2006, Craig faced a challenge off the pitch. He was eventually cleared of assaulting two women in a Cardiff nightclub. The Cardiff-born 27-year-old was accused of assault against Sophie Palmer, 19, and her friend Holly Smith, 20, at the No 10 club in February 2006. The player was cleared by district judge John Charles after a five-day trial at Cardiff Magistrates Court.

In December 2006, the Daily Express reported that West Ham would test Liverpool's resolve with a £6m bid for Bellamy. The beginning of the following month saw the Daily Mail and others speculate that Aston Villa would also test Liverpool with a £6million - Villa of coure being managed by Bellamy's former Celtic manager Martin O'Neill. Prior to their Champions League clash with Barcelona at the end of February 2007, there was reports of a violent bust-up between Bellamy and his teammate John Arne Riise. However the pair combined to give Liverpool a 2-0 win at the Nou Camp. On 4th March, there were reports in the News of the World that Bellamy would be one of Roy Keane's major summer targets if Sunderland were promoted to the Premiership as Keane would be given a £20m transfer chest. Other targets include John O'Shea, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Thomas Gravesen.

In July 2007, Liverpool signed Athletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres and Ukrainian international Andriy Voronin, and indicated that Bellamy's time at Anfield was over. He had made 42 appearances for the Merseyside team scoring nine goals. On 10th July 2007, Bellamy completed a £7.5million transfer to West Ham, beating their previous record transfer which was for Dean Ashton. The 27-year-old Wales captain has signed a five-year contract and said "I wanted to make sure that, if I left Liverpool, it would be to a club that is going to be pushing for Europe. I want to play in Europe, it's important to me, and I felt that same drive and ambition here at West Ham." Bellamy becomes West Ham's fourth signing of the 007 summer after Scott Parker, Richard Wright and Julien Faubert

Bellamy cited the increased chance of first-team football as one of the reason for leaving Liverpool and believes the Hammers will reap the benefit of his indifferent spell on Merseyside. "I had a great experience at Liverpool and I believe West Ham will benefit this year, because I know I am a better player for it. I supported Liverpool as a boy and would have had the chance to play Champions League football again next season. But I needed to look beyond that, in the same way that Lucas Neill did when he came here. I understood Lucas's position. If he'd joined Liverpool, he would have been a squad player, like I was. Some people don't understand it, but the opportunity to be a senior figure at an ambitious club like West Ham is very attractive."

In December 2008, it was rumoured that financially challenged West Ham rejected a £6million bid from Tottenham for Bellamy's services. Craig was linked, along with teammate Scott Parker, with a transfer to Man City in January 2009. On 14th january 2009, West Ham revealed that they had rejected a third bid for Bellamy from Manchester City which was around £9m. Craig completed his switch to Man City on 19th January for an undisclosed fee reported to be around £14m

Despite scoring 18 goals in 51 appearances for City in 2010/11, the big-spending City had no place for Bellamy in their 2010/11 squad. Despite links with Celtic, Tottenham, Fulham and Sunderland, City allowed him to join his hometown club Cardiff City on a season long loan on 17th August 2010. He made his debut for the club on 21st August 2010 in a 4–0 win over Doncaster Rovers, a match in which he scored from a 35 yard free kick.

On 12th January 2011, Bellamy was arrested by police for assault following an incident in Cardiff city centre in the early hours of Sunday 9th January 2011. However he was available for Cardiff's trip to Carrow Road on Saturday 15th January 2011. Before Cardiff's season had finished (they reached the play-offs), Bellamy's future was being discussed with rumours suggesting that he would be used by Man City as a part-exchange for Bolton's Gary Cahill, whilst Everton and Stoke were also said to be keen. Bellamy made 35 appearances for Cardiff, scoring 11 times but the Bluebirds lost out to QPR, Norwich and Swansea in their quest for the Premiership and Bellamy returned to Man City.

Despite transfer speculation linking him with Cardiff and QPR, Bellamy made a surprise return to Liverpool on 31st August 2011, signing a two year deal after coming to an agreement with Man City over the final 12months of his contract with them. In his first season back at Anfield, Liverpool won the League Cup beating Malky Mackay's Cardiff on penalties after the game finished 2-2.

On 2nd July 2012, Craig was named one of the three over-age players in Team GB's football team for the 2012 London Olympics. he scored Team GB's only goal in the opening clash with Senegal on 27th July 2012 which finished 1-1. He played all four of Team GB's games at London 2012, but Team GB were knocked out in the quarter-finals by South Korea.

Rumours spread in early August 2012 that Craig was taking a pay cut to join Cardiff City, This became reality on 10th August 2012 with Bellamy signing a two year contract with Malky Mackay's side. Bellamy said his main motivation for joining the Bluebirds was to be able to live at home with his family in Cardiff. "I wanted to wake up every day with my kids," said 33-year-old Bellamy, who has taken a significant cut in wages. "There's more to life than football."

Bellamy won the Championship title with Cardiff when they drew with Burnley on 20th April 2013. They secured promotion to the Premier League on 16th April 2013when they drew with Charlton. That result took Cardiff back to the top flight after a 51 year absence.

On 8th October 2013, Bellamy announced that he would quit international football after the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Belgium. At the time of his announcement, he had won 76 caps for Wales and scored 19 goals during a 15-year international career. He is the third most-capped Welsh player of all time and is fifth on the all-time scorers' chart with 19 goals.

"I'm just grateful for every game I've been lucky enough to play for my country, and I really mean that," said Bellamy. "It's an honour to play for your country at any level at any sport. Playing 70-odd times, it's been the best. Even the disappointments, even the lows, even the times I didn't want to play again because sometimes defeats can do that to you. Seventy-odd times having that honour like singing the anthem… it's still the best and Friday will be the best and hopefully I will get the chance to do it again on Tuesday. It will be hard to let go."

Bellamy's goal for Cardiff against Norwich on 1st February 2014 in the Premier League meant that he became the first player to score in the Premier League for seven different teams.

Cardiff finished bottom of the Premier League despite Bellamy's two goals and were relegated to the Championship at the beginning of May 2014.

Bellamy retired from professional football on 22nd May 2014 stating that his body couldn't take anymore. He had played 546 professional games, scoring 170 goals.

Bellamy returned to Cardiff on 30th December 2014 to coach in the club's academy in all age groups from under-12 upwards.


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