On this day 13th July 1979 Craig Bellamy was born in Cardiff. It just so happened to also be a Friday. A bit of useless info there. I think everyone will agree that Craig Bellamy was, let’s say, a fiery character. He was one of those that you hated when we played against whatever team he played for at the time. But then when he signed for us, we were glad to have him.
Controversy seemed to follow Craig Bellamy wherever he went. No different at Liverpool. Remember the John Arne Riise and the golf club incident? If not, you can read about that particular incident HERE.
Pre Liverpool Days
Craig Bellamy started his career at Norwich. He made his first-team debut in the 1996/97 season. Bellamy was quickly on the radar of a host of top clubs as he scored 13 goals in 38 games in his first full season. He also made his Wales debut in that season.
He netted 19 goals in 43 games the next season. And after an injury jinxed 1999/00 season Norwich sold him for a club record fee of £6.5 million to replace Robbie Keane at Coventry.
Not a happy time at Coventry however. They were relegated from the Premier League in his only season but fortunately for Bellamy Newcastle were interested in signing him.
Bellamy spent the next four years at Newcastle and he was a big success there. He was voted PFA Young Player of the Year in his Newcastle debut 2001/02 season. Although he suffered with knee problems at Newcastle, he still managed to play 128 games and score 43 goals there.
After Sir Bobby Robson departed Newcastle in 2004, Bellamy had a very public falling-out with his successor, Graeme Souness. As a result, Bellamy went on loan to Celtic at the end of January 2005. At Celtic Park, he scored nine goals in 15 matches, but Bellamy wasn’t interested in a long-term deal.
After Celtic he joined another fiery Welshman, Mark Hughes, at Blackburn prior to the 2005/06 season. Bellamy enjoyed a good spell at Blackburn under Mark Hughes’ guidance. He scored an impressive 17 goals in 32 games for Blackburn.
This form alerted Liverpool. He had a £6 million get-out clause in his contract. A clause that Liverpool took full advantage of. So, this lifelong Liverpool supporter joined his boyhood idols.
First Spell At Liverpool
Bellamy was very inconsistent in what proved to be his only season at Liverpool. He made 33 starts and nine substitute appearances. He displayed plenty of his talents and his enthusiasm at times but unfortunately the “highlight” was his golf club incident with John Arne Riise mentioned above.
On The Move Again
He was soon on his travels again though. This time to West Ham. Bellamy played with the Hammers for eighteen months where injuries unfortunately took their toll on him. However, despite only managing nine goals in 26 games he was sold for a huge fee of £14 million to Manchester City in January 2009.
Bellamy scored four goals in 11 matches during the remainder of the 2008/09 season at Eastlands. The following season seemed to be a happy period for Bellamy at City as he seemed to be fairly happily settled there. He only missed six of the 38 Premier League matches in 2009/10.
This turned out to be his only full season at City. He managed to score ten goals from 32 Premier League matches as well as contributing eight assists. Bellamy was on the move again. This time it was on a season-long loan deal to his hometown club, Cardiff City.
He was immediately named club captain and his contribution was significant. In all he scored 11 goals from 36 matches and chipped in with 13 assists in 2010/11.
On the last day of the 2011 summer transfer-window at the age of 32, Bellamy made a surprise return to Liverpool five years after he first arrived at Anfield. Bellamy was granted a free transfer by Manchester City after the club agreed to settle the final year of his contract.
Bellamy was one of the big success stories of the 2011/12 season. He appeared in almost three-quarters of the 51 first-team matches, even though he was rarely asked to play twice in the same week due to his injuries history.
He made a significant contribution with nine goals. The most crucial of which was his goal that took Liverpool through to the League Cup final. Ironically waiting for Liverpool in the final were Cardiff City.
He came on as a substitute in the final for Jordan Henderson midway through the second half. To confirm his popularity, both sets of fans applauded him on. As Liverpool celebrated the penalty shoot-out win, Bellamy made a point of going to the Cardiff fans, thanking them for their reception.
Later on that season he was also a substitute in the FA Cup semi-final with Everton at Wembley and laid on the winner for Andy Carroll. This helped to ensure his place as a starter in the final against Chelsea.
Bellamy scored nine goals in the season. He later left that summer to return to Cardiff in August 2012. The main reason being he wanted to be close to his family.
Bellamy announced his retirement as a player in May 2014 while stating that his body could not take any more. The injuries had taken their toll. Later on that year, in December, he returned to Cardiff as an academy coach.
Yes indeed Craig Bellamy was a fiery character. The type of player who always seemed to give 110%. He will no doubt say he satisfied some boyhood dreams of not only playing for his hometown club but also for his boyhood heroes.
Thanks for the memories Craig. Hope you enjoy your 39th Birthday.