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Craig Bellamy

Craig Douglas Bellamy (born July 13 1979 in Rumney, Cardiff) is a Welsh international footballer. He plays for West Ham United in the Premier League.

Personal life

Craig Bellamy was raised in Rumney, Cardiff, and attended Baden Powell Primary School, Trowbridge Junior School and Rumney High School. He played football at a junior level for Caer Castell F.C., where his father was manager. Bellamy married Claire Jansen in June 2006 and has three children, Ellis, Cameron and daughter Lexie born on 3 September 2007.

Club career

Norwich City

Bellamy began his footballing life as a nine-year-old at Bristol Rovers, and spent two years at the club before being brought into the youth system of Norwich City. After this he spent a short spell at Bradford Park Avenue and a trial at Bradford City, scoring seven goals in three trial games, but was released as it was thought he would not make the grade as a professional footballer.

His first team debut for the Canaries came at Crystal Palace on 15 March 1997. Bellamy became a first team regular in the 1997-98 season, making 38 appearances with 13 goals. He missed two months of the 1998-99 season through injury after a clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Kevin Muscat, but still managed to have a successful season, amassing 17 goals in 38 appearances.

1999-2000 again saw Bellamy miss a substantial amount of the season after sustaining a knee injury during a pre-season game against Southend United. He only returned to action in April 2000. The summer of 2000 saw much transfer speculation surrounding Bellamy with Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Celtic and Wimbledon all reportedly interested. Bellamy eventually completed a move to Coventry City for a sum of £6.5 million, financed through the sale of Robbie Keane to Inter Milan.

In 2002, Norwich fans voted Bellamy into the Norwich City F.C. Hall of Fame.

Coventry City

Bellamy had an unsuccessful start to his career with Coventry, scoring only three goals by December, two of which were penalties. This fueled rumours of a return to Norwich, but it never materialised. Coventry stood by their man despite them facing relegation and Bellamy stating that he would want to leave if they dropped down a division. This duly happened and despite notching up only six goals in 34 appearances, there was still demand for his services in amongst bigger teams.

Newcastle United

Bellamy's Newcastle career got off to a flying start as he scored on his home debut in their 1-0 win over Belgian side Lokeren. Under manager Bobby Robson he formed a productive striking partnership with Alan Shearer, Bellamy's pace complementing the former England captain's guile. At the end of his first season, Bellamy was awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year award, ahead of players such as Steven Gerrard.

During his second season at the Toon came probably his most important moment for the club as he scored two goals (including the winner) in the 3-2 win over Feyenoord which took Newcastle through to the second group stage of the UEFA Champions League. Unfortunately, in the next match (a 4-1 defeat to Inter Milan) he was sent off for kicking out at Inter defender Marco Materazzi, which resulted in a three-match ban. In March 2004, he threw a chair at then-first-team coach John Carver.

After Bobby Robson's departure in August 2004, Bellamy had a very public falling-out with his replacement as Newcastle manager, Graeme Souness. On January 23 2005, Bellamy was omitted from the team for a Premiership match with Arsenal. Before the match, Souness said that Bellamy had a hamstring problem, but contradicted himself in a post-match interview, claiming that Bellamy was benched for being unwilling to play as a right-sided midfielder.

Minutes later, Bellamy gave an interview of his own saying that he was prepared to play in any position. He admitted that he had threatened to fake injury ahead of the Arsenal match, and in a later interview accused Souness of lying about him. Souness responded by stating that Bellamy would never play in a Newcastle United shirt, whilst he was manager and consequently the club fined Bellamy two weeks' wages (about £80,000).

Celtic

On 31 January 2005 (transfer deadline day) Bellamy was sent on loan to Celtic of the Scottish Premier League for the remainder of the season. He shunned a move to Birmingham City. He scored nine goals for Celtic in the remainder of the season. He was part of the squad that went onto win the Scottish Cup, his first career trophy. The club were keen to sign him permanently, but on July 7 2005 it was announced that he was to return to the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers for a transfer fee believed to be to be between £5 million. It was reported that Bellamy was keen on a return to Celtic after his departure from Liverpool, however a move back north never materialised.

Blackburn Rovers

Bellamy signed a four year contract with Blackburn Rovers, and he was reunited with former Wales manager Mark Hughes. He scored 17 goals for Blackburn (including two terrific efforts against Portsmouth) in a highly successful but injury-tempered season. Bellamy's rejuvenation sparked renewed interest in him from a handful of top clubs.

Craig Bellamy made himself further unwelcome at St James' Park when some abusive text messages were sent from his phone to club captain Alan Shearer after Newcastle's FA Cup semi-final defeat by Manchester United. At the time, Shearer was with the Newcastle squad in Ireland for Jackie McNamara's testimonial golf day. Bellamy's agent has insisted his mobile had been lost at the time and he was not responsible for the texts. Kenneth Shepherd, son of Newcastle chairman Freddy, also received gloating text messages. Shearer is alleged to have threatened to "knock his block off" if Craig Bellamy returned to Newcastle United.

Liverpool

On June 20 2006 he was the subject of a transfer bid from FA Cup winners Liverpool, rumoured to be in the region of £6.5 million. The offer triggered a clause in Bellamy's contract involving bids from clubs playing Champions League football, and Blackburn were obliged to allow him permission to talk to the club.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez subsequently stated that Bellamy "has the ability, the pace and the talent we've been looking for", and that he expected talks to go well, particularly as Bellamy is known to have supported Liverpool in his youth. He signed for the club on 23 June 2006 and officially became a Liverpool player on July 1, 2006.

Bellamy got off to a slow start for Liverpool. Despite an impressive pre-season and scoring on his debut against Maccabi Haifa, Bellamy struggled for Premiership goals, eventually scoring his first against former club Blackburn Rovers. Bellamy finally made an impact against Wigan Athletic, inspiring Liverpool to a 4-0 victory with two goals and one assist. It was his first game after being cleared of supposedly assaulting a woman in a Cardiff bar. He scored again two weeks later against Charlton Athletic and then got a fourth in four games against Watford on the December 23 2006. Followed by another goal on January 13 2007 against Watford to bring his season tally for Liverpool up to seven.

Bellamy's feud with Newcastle United resurfaced in September 2006 following Liverpool's victory over the Magpies. Assistant Manager Terry McDermott branded Bellamy a "little upstart" after he was said to have apparently interrupted a conversation McDermott was having with referee Mark Halsey after the match had finished. McDermott earlier also revealed that Bellamy was hated at Newcastle.

In February 2007 it was alleged that Bellamy attacked team mate John Arne Riise with a golf club during a team training session in Portugal. Both players were fined two weeks pay by the team. The incident earned him the nickname "The Nutter with the Putter". Manager Rafael Benítez has accepted the players' apology. In the first match following the incident, away at Barcelona, Bellamy celebrated his 1-1 equalizer, after Deco had headed Barca into the lead, by emulating a golf stroke. What was even more remarkable is that he set up the winner in that match, assisting none other than John Arne Riise.

Bellamy announced to football results television programme "Wales on Saturday" on April 28 2007 that he would leave Liverpool in the summer 2007 transfer window. His given reasons were lack of communication with Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez and conflicting opinions on how Bellamy should be utilised in a match.

The next day, Craig angrily dismissed this story on the club's official website, www.liverpoolfc.tv. He was disappointed that he had to deal with this issue while preparing for such a big match as the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea. Bellamy reassured the fans that he is 100% committed to the club. He even stated that Rafa Benítez was the manager he has admired most during his career and wishes to emulate Rafa if he ever chooses to pursue a career in football management.

Liverpool went on to win the semi-final, and while at the sidelines, Bellamy could be seen talking to Benítez, and their relationship seemed to look fine. He was, however, left on the bench as an unused substitute, in the 2007 UEFA Champions League Final, as Liverpool lost 2-1 to A.C. Milan

Bellamy was linked with Aston Villa, Roma and Juventus in the 2007 summer transfer window, and was also linked with a return to former club, Blackburn Rovers, prompting the club's chairman to say that the link was "...only natural. Rafael Benítez confirmed on 7 July 2007 that Bellamy had joined West Ham United, though this was later clarified by the London club, who stated that the striker had yet to complete a "private contractual matter" with Liverpool.

West Ham United

Bellamy completed a move to West Ham United for a fee of £7.5 million on July 10 2007, signing a five-year contract with the club. He 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 [...] It was important for me to start playing regular football. I could sit at Liverpool as a squad player all day long, picking up my money, playing every now and then, but I'd be cheating myself and my personality."

Bellamy made his West Ham debut in the 2-0 home defeat by Manchester City on August 11 2007. His first two goals for West Ham were scored in the 2-1 League Cup victory against Bristol Rovers on 28 August, 2007.Injury blighted Bellamy's first season with West Ham. He managed only 9 games, scoring 4 goals and in February 2008 was ruled out of action until the beginning of season 2008-09. Bellamy returned to action in the third game of the 2008-2009 season for the Hammers, scoring the third goal that made sure they beat Blackburn Rovers. They won 4-1. It was his first goal in 6 months but his fifth goal for the Hammers since he joined in July 2007.

International career

Bellamy made his international debut for Wales during the 1997-98 season, playing in a friendly game against Jamaica. In October 2006, Bellamy was awarded the captain's armband by Welsh manager John Toshack when Ryan Giggs was unavailable through injury for the Euro 2008 qualifier against Slovakia. His captaincy got off to a poor start with a 5-1 defeat. However, in his second game as captain against Cyprus, Wales won 3-1. Bellamy was appointed captain of the Wales national football team following the retirement of Giggs in June 2007 and earned his 50th cap for Wales against Iceland in May 2008. Arguably his best performance for the national team came during the 5-2 victory over Slovakia where he scored twice and also set up two goals. He also famously scored Wales' winner against Italy in October 2002, cooly rounding one of the best goalkeepers in the world Gianluigi Buffon before slotting the ball into the empty net.

Football Foundation

On 6 May 2008 plans were announced for the building of the Craig Bellamy Foundation for disadvantaged children in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Bellamy has visited the war-torn West African country and has reportedly been moved to invest £650,000 of his own money to help build a football academy to develop the country's young football talent.

Career statistics

|- |1996-97||rowspan="5"|Norwich City||rowspan="5"|First Division||3||0||colspan="2"|-||colspan="2"|-||colspan="2"|-||3||0 |- |1997-98||36||13||1||0||1||0||colspan="2"|-||38||13 |- |1998-99||40||17||colspan="2"|-||5||2||colspan="2"|-||45||19 |- |1999-00||4||2||colspan="2"|-||colspan="2"|-||colspan="2"|-||4||2 |- |2000-01||1||0||colspan="2"|-||colspan="2"|-||colspan="2"|-||1||0 |- |2000-01||Coventry City||Premier League||34||6||2||1||3||1||colspan="2"|-||39||8 |- |2001-02||rowspan="4"|Newcastle United||rowspan="4"|Premier League||27||9||3||0||3||4||6||1||39||14 |- |2002-03||29||7||1||0||colspan="2"|-||6||2||36||9 |- |2003-04||16||5||colspan="2"|-||colspan="2"|-||8||5||24||10 |- |2004-05||21||7||1||0||2||0||5||3||29||10 |- |2004-05||Celtic||Premier League||12||7||3||2||colspan="2"|-||colspan="2"|-||15||9 |- |2005-06||Blackburn Rovers||Premier League||27||13||1||2||4||2||colspan="2"|-||32||17 |- |2006-07||Liverpool||Premier League||27||7||colspan="2"|-||2||0||12||2||41||9 |- |2007-08||rowspan="2"|West Ham United||rowspan="2"|Premier League||8||2||colspan="2"|-||1||2||colspan="2"|-||9||4 |- |2008-09||1||1||||||||||||||1||1273||88||9||3||21||11||37||13||340||11612||7||3||2||colspan="2"|-||colspan="2"|-||15||9285||95||12||5||21||11||37||13||355||125 |}

Honours

Celtic

Liverpool

References

External links

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