From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.33 :: NO.03 :: Jan. 21, 2010

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Bellamy’s blooming in City

Bellamy’s protracted move to Manchester City in January 2009 had raised plenty of eyebrows, but he has more than held his own at Eastlands among the other big-money arrivals of late, writes Alfonso Torr.

AP

Craig Bellamy... courting controversy.

Love him or loathe him, it is hard to deny that Craig Bellamy’s colourful career has been as captivating as it has been controversial.

Only last month speculation was rife that the 30-year-old had fallen out with new Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, less than a week into the Italian’s tenure at Eastlands.

Mancini, though, was quick to play down the latest misdemeanour involving Bellamy.

“Bellamy is my friend,” said Mancini.

For how much longer the pair continues to exchange pleasantries, however, is anyone’s guess, given Bellamy’s tendency to hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons and his ability to seemingly alienate himself.

It was at Norwich where Cardiff-born Bellamy first made an impact, averaging a goal just under every three games.

The first of his big-money moves — his combined transfer fees total in excess of GBP45 million — arrived in 2000 when he joined Coventry, but in his one season with the club he was unable to prevent the Sky Blues from being relegated and duly made a swift return to the top flight when Newcastle came calling in June 2001.

Under Bobby Robson, the Welshman flourished alongside Alan Shearer, even if his progress was thwarted by injury and a temperament that occasionally got the better of him — on and off the pitch.

He reportedly threw a chair during a spat with former Newcastle coach John Carver in March 2004 and his relationship with Robson’s successor, Graeme Souness, proved fractious to say the least.

The most high-profile clash with Souness came in January 2005 when Bellamy was dropped for a Barclays English Premier League clash with Arsenal. Souness claimed the Wales international was injured, while Bellamy declared himself fully fit and insisted his omission was due to a reluctance to being played out of position. The fallout continued for weeks afterwards, with Bellamy sent out on loan to Celtic, during which time he also reportedly sent abusive text messages to Shearer after Newcastle’s FA Cup semifinal defeat to Manchester United.

Bellamy ended the 2004/05 season with a flurry of goals — he scored 22 in total for club and country — to help Celtic win the Scottish Cup before he left Newcastle to join a Blackburn side rejuvenated under Mark Hughes.

The Lancashire club qualified for the UEFA Cup during Bellamy’s one season at Ewood Park and that was enough to persuade Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez to part with GBP6.5 million in July 2006.

However, his time on Merseyside will be remembered for all the wrong reasons after alarming reports emerged in February 2007 that Bellamy had allegedly attacked team-mate John Arne Riise with a golf club during a training break in Portugal.

Bellamy made light of the furore surrounding the incident when he scored during the following game — a UEFA Champions League tie against Barcelona — and his celebration saw him swing an imaginary golf club.

But the damage had been done and Bellamy joined West Ham in July 2007. Again he continued his impressive scoring record, but injury continued to hamper Bellamy at Upton Park.

A protracted move to Manchester City in January 2009 saw Bellamy and Hughes eventually reunited, with plenty of eyebrows raised at the GBP14 million fee paid for the striker. Bellamy, though, has more than held his own at Eastlands among the other big-money arrivals of late, scoring key goals against Arsenal, Manchester United and Aston Villa this season as City — now under the guidance of Mancini — chase a top-four finish.

At international level, Bellamy has amassed over 50 caps for his country since his debut in 1998, and he was installed as captain following the retirement of Ryan Giggs.

Like Giggs, Bellamy is a leading light in an otherwise inexperienced Wales side that has not qualified for a major tournament since reaching Euro 1976. Bellamy has earned himself something of a bad-boy reputation, whether justified or not, down the years. His alleged off-field clash with John Arne Riise undoubtedly represents the lowest point in Bellamy’s career.

Bellamy married Claire Jansen in June 2006 and the couple have two sons and a daughter. A Bentley Continental GT takes pride of place among Bellamy’s extensive fleet of cars, along with a white Audi R8 convertible.

FACTFILE

Name: Craig Bellamy

Position: Striker

Club: Manchester City

D.O.B: 13/07/1979

Wales Caps: 58

Wales Goals: 17

Wales Debut: v Jamaica, March 1998

MOMENT TO REMEMBER:

Defeat in the Manchester derby back in September can hardly be seen as a cause for celebration by City fans, yet Bellamy’s two goals during the 3-4 loss at Old Trafford and all-round performance proved he is a genuine class act in the Barclays English Premier League. The Welshman gave Rio Ferdinand a torrid afternoon.

MOMENT TO FORGET:

After guiding Newcastle into the UEFA Champions League second group stages, Bellamy disgraced himself during a 1-4 home defeat at the hands of Inter Milan when he was sent off for lashing out at Marco Materazzi.

© PA Sport, 2010, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited. Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.



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