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Craig Bellamy
Craig Bellamy 2014.jpg
Bellamy attending a Cardiff City match in 2014
Personal information
Full name Craig Douglas Bellamy
Date of birth (1979-07-13) 13 July 1979 (age 44)
Place of birth Cardiff, Wales
Height 1.75 m
Playing position Forward
Club information
Current club Burnley
(Assistant Manager)
Youth career
1988–1990 Bristol Rovers
1990–1996 Norwich City
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1996–2000 Norwich City 84 (32)
2000–2001 Coventry City 34 (6)
2001–2005 Newcastle United 93 (28)
2005 Celtic (loan) 12 (7)
2005–2006 Blackburn Rovers 27 (13)
2006–2007 Liverpool 27 (7)
2007–2009 West Ham United 24 (7)
2009–2011 Manchester City 40 (12)
2010–2011 Cardiff City (loan) 35 (11)
2011–2012 Liverpool 27 (6)
2012–2014 Cardiff City 55 (6)
Total 458 (135)
National team
1995–1997 Wales U18 9 (6)
1997–1998 Wales U21 8 (1)
1998–2013 Wales 78 (19)
2012 Great Britain Olympic 5 (1)
Teams managed
2019–2021 Anderlecht (U21)
2022– Burnley (assistant)
  • Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Craig Douglas Bellamy (born 13 July 1979) is a Welsh former professional footballer who played as a forward and is current assistant manager at EFL Championship side Burnley.

Early life

Craig Douglas Bellamy was born on 13 July 1979 at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, the second of three boys born to Douglas and Angela Bellamy. At the time of his birth, the family lived on Swindon Street near the Splott district of the city, a traditionally working-class environment. Bellamy's mother worked as a cleaner and his father worked at the nearby Allied Steel and Wire site that overlooked the family home, where he remained until the plant's closure in 2002. With both his parents working full-time, Bellamy spent most of his school holidays at his paternal grandmother's home in Adamsdown. He suffers from asthma; as a child he made frequent visits to hospital to manage the condition. At the age of five, Bellamy and his family moved to the eastern suburb Trowbridge, which is part of a council estate built in the 1960s.

Bellamy's father was a keen football fan who supported Cardiff City and Bellamy's first experience of professional football was watching a Football League Fourth Division match between Cardiff and Newport County during the 1987–88 season, which the home side won 4–0. His father played amateur football for local Cardiff-based sides; Bellamy described him as a "sluggish right-back". Bellamy's interest in the sport grew rapidly; he regularly attended Cardiff matches at the club's home ground Ninian Park and played in ABC Park near his home with his older brother Paul and his friends. Bellamy credits playing against older children as making him "into a better player very quickly". He first attended Baden Powell Primary School before switching to Trowbridge Juniors where he joined the school football team at the age of seven. Despite being younger than most of the other players, he was selected to play and featured in his first match against Gladstone Primary School. Local team Pentwyn Dynamo took an interest in Bellamy but were put off by his small size; his father instead offered to form a team if Bellamy could find enough players. Soon after, the under-10s side of local team Caer Castell FC was formed, and Bellamy scored all four goals in the club's first fixture. He was later picked to represent both Cardiff Schools and a Cardiff and District side in national competition. He went on to attend Rumney High School, but left the school with no GCSEs.

At the age of 12, Bellamy became friends with a group of mostly older boys and skipped school for up to two weeks at a time. He later admitted to acting as a lookout while his friends broke into vehicles to steal car stereos to sell for money. He described himself as "a kid who knew he was going to be a footballer and thought he knew it all". By age 14, Bellamy was barely attending school and was smoking cigarettes every day. In 1993, his brother introduced him to his future wife, Claire; Bellamy credits the relationship as a key factor in moving him away from his early troubles.

Career

Craig Bellamy February 2011
Bellamy playing for Cardiff in 2011

Bellamy attended youth sessions organised by Cardiff City in Ely for a year after being encouraged by his father. The club, however, took little interest in him as a youngster and, at nine-years-old, he joined Bristol Rovers after being spotted by former professional Stan Montgomery, who was working for Rovers. Although an hour's drive from his family home, Bellamy was swayed by the better coaching and his own playing kit. He spent two years with Bristol Rovers before being spotted by a scout working for Norwich City. The club invited Bellamy to a trial match in Somerset where he impressed and was asked to travel with the side to compete in the Dana Cup, an international youth football tournament held in Hjørring, Denmark. His performances led to a permanent place with the Canary Rangers, Norwich's youth development side. Prior to signing with the club, several other teams took an interest in Bellamy; Leeds United offered his parents £10,000 if he signed for them. Norwich responded by guaranteeing him a two-year YTS contract when he was old enough to sign. Bellamy travelled to Norwich by train on Saturday afternoons, then played a youth match on Sunday morning before returning to Cardiff.

At the age of 15, Bellamy moved away from Cardiff to start his youth apprenticeship with Norwich, being placed with a local family along with another apprentice. His first year away from home proved troublesome and he describes it as "the hardest year of my life", regularly crying himself to sleep at night after suffering from homesickness. Each apprentice was assigned to a senior player for whom they performed basic tasks such as cleaning boots or making tea. Bellamy was paired with John Polston but found the experienced defender difficult to work with and believed Polston tried to "humiliate" him. Bellamy's homesickness was lessened after he became friends with another apprentice from Cardiff, Tom Ramasut, but problems with his discipline became commonplace.

Bellamy reached a turning point in his career when his girlfriend Claire became pregnant while he was a youth player. He has credited the conception of his first child as a catalyst for his career that saw him become more determined to become a professional footballer, stating, "I have had the career I have had because of that moment when Claire phoned me up to tell me she was pregnant". At the end of the first year of his YTS deal, Bellamy was the only player promoted to the club's reserve side by coach Mike Phelan. [File:Craig Bellamy.JPG|thumb|Bellamy warming up before facing Fulham while playing for Liverpool|alt=A footballer warming up ahead of a game]]

Bellamy signed his first professional contract with Norwich when he turned 16, earning £250 a week, with the option to renegotiate after ten first-team appearances. He made his professional debut for Norwich on 15 March 1997 under manager Mike Walker at the age of 17, as an injury-time substitute in a 2–0 defeat to Crystal Palace in the First Division, the second tier of the English football league system.

Bellamy made his first career start in the opening month of the following season in the first round of the League Cup against Barnet on 12 August 1997, and started in the league for the first time on 20 September against Manchester City. During the early stages of the campaign, Bellamy played his tenth match for the first team, leading to new contract negotiations. Despite an attempt by newly-promoted Premier League side Crystal Palace to sign him for a fee of £2 million, he chose to extend his deal with Norwich. On 1 November, Bellamy scored his first senior goal, the opener in a 2–2 home draw with Bury.

Bellamy scored seven goals in his first eight league appearances of the campaign, including his first career hat-trick on 22 August 1998 in a 4–2 home win over Queens Park Rangers. By November, he was one of the leading goalscorers in the First Division and was rewarded with a new five-year contract.

He signed for Premier League side Coventry City in 2000, breaking the club's record transfer fee, but suffered relegation in his only season. He joined Newcastle United the following year where he helped the club achieve two top-four finishes during a four year spell. Bellamy fell out with manager Graeme Souness in 2005 and spent the latter part of the 2004–05 season on loan at Celtic, where he won the Scottish Cup.

Bellamy returned to the Premier League later that year, playing one season with both Blackburn Rovers, where he was named the club's player of the year, and Liverpool, helping the club reach the 2007 UEFA Champions League Final. In 2007 he signed for West Ham United but injury disrupted his time there and in 2009 he joined Manchester City. For the 2010–11 season, Bellamy dropped a division to the Championship to represent his boyhood club Cardiff City on a season-long loan. He helped Cardiff reach the play-offs before they were defeated in the semi-finals. Bellamy returned to Liverpool the following season, winning the 2012 League Cup and reaching the FA Cup final, before rejoining Cardiff City permanently in 2012. He later led them to the Premier League; the first time in more than fifty years that Cardiff had played in the top tier of English football. He played one more season with the club in the Premier League, setting a new record by scoring for his seventh different club in the division, before retiring from playing in 2014.

Having represented Wales at several youth levels, in 1998 at the age of 18, Bellamy made his senior debut for Wales against Jamaica. Over the next fifteen years, Bellamy gained 78 caps for his country and scored 19 goals. He was the captain of the side from 2007 to 2011, when he stepped down from the role due to recurring injuries. Bellamy retired from international football following the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign. He was also a member of the Great Britain Olympic team at the 2012 Olympics in London, appearing five times and scoring once.

Bellamy has been involved in numerous high-profile incidents during his career with teammates, managers and members of the public and was described by Bobby Robson as "the gobbiest footballer I've ever met". Outside football, he has been a patron of several charities and started his own organisation, The Craig Bellamy Foundation, in Sierra Leone to provide schooling and football coaching to disadvantaged children.

Style of play

Craig Bellamy 2011 Wales
Bellamy playing for Wales in 2011

Bellamy has been described as having a dynamic style of play with quick, bursting technique and calmness under pressure. He began his career as a central midfielder, but was moved further forward during his time with Norwich and featured in several attacking roles, playing as both a winger and a centre-forward for the remainder of his career. He preferred playing a counter-attacking style of football as his pace often allowed him to exploit space behind the defenders as the opposition team pressed forward. As Premier League managers shifted toward favouring strikers with a more physical presence, Bellamy adapted to a wider role, studying leading wingers such as Franck Ribéry to improve his game.

His former Wales, Blackburn and Manchester City manager Mark Hughes said he loved having Bellamy on his teams because of "the intensity he brings" and "his desire to affect the game every single time he plays". Hughes acknowledged that Bellamy developed a reputation as being sometimes difficult to work with but stated, "If you understand him and support him, he will play his heart out for you". Louise Taylor of The Guardian highlighted the considerable attacking threat that Bellamy possessed and that his pace was "complemented by high-calibre finishing ability". His best tally in a single season in the Premier League was 17 goals during his spell with Blackburn in 2005–06 although his goalscoring record was questioned by his former Newcastle manager Graeme Souness during his time with the club.

Although sometimes perceived as a disruptive influence on teams, former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard praised Bellamy following his arrival, commenting, "I was expecting a bit of a hothead ... It surprised me how professional he was.  ... how much he loved the game." Bellamy's temperament and approach has seen him involved in several high-profile confrontations and led to him falling out with managers Souness and Roberto Mancini. Bobby Robson, who managed Bellamy for several years at Newcastle, described him as "the gobbiest footballer I've ever met" but also "one of the most committed". In his autobiography, former Wales manager John Toshack described a fractious relationship with Bellamy, saying, "he could cause problems where they weren't necessary and you always felt there was a possibility that he could upset the applecart". He also blamed Bellamy's relative lack of trophy wins during his career as partly to blame; "a lot of managers signed him but a lot of managers got rid of him as well; ... all were trophy winners, but none of them won anything with Bellamy in the team". Toshack did concede that Bellamy was an important attacking threat for the Welsh squad and that there was never a doubt over his inclusion.

Bellamy's career was severely hampered by persistent injuries that restricted both the amount of time he could train and the number of matches he could play in close proximity. Gianfranco Zola, who managed Bellamy at West Ham, stated, "Injuries have been the downside of his career ... The fragility he has got in the muscles has stopped him from being a higher player". In the latter stages of his career, as his pace diminished, he received praise from Paul Abbandonato of WalesOnline for possessing "leadership, drive, energy, work-rate and standards of excellence" during his last playing season.

Coaching career

Craig Bellamy with Championship trophy
Bellamy holding the trophy after Cardiff won the 2012–13 Championship

Bellamy returned to Cardiff as an academy coach on a voluntary basis. In 2016, he was appointed Cardiff's player development manager, overseeing all age groups at the club's youth academy and coaching the older age-group teams. Having earlier been interviewed for the post of Wales manager, he was given permission to apply for the vacant managerial position at EFL League One club Oxford United in February 2018. Bellamy agreed terms with Oxford but later withdrew his application after the club was taken over during the negotiations. He stepped down from his coaching role at Cardiff in January 2019 to defend himself against a claim of bullying a youth-team player. An internal investigation by the club later resulted in Bellamy issuing an apology over an "unacceptable coaching environment", although he was subject to no formal disciplinary action.

In June 2019, Bellamy signed a three-year contract to become the under-21 team coach for Belgian side Anderlecht following the appointment of his former Manchester City teammate Vincent Kompany as manager. He later worked as an assistant to Kompany before stepping down from the role in September 2021 citing mental health issues. In July 2022, he rejoined Vincent Kompany and was named a first team coach at Burnley.

Personal life

Bellamy has described himself as a "keen" supporter of both Liverpool and Cardiff City. Bellamy met Claire Jansen in Cardiff while they were teenagers. They remained together despite Bellamy spending most of his time away from the city during his apprenticeship with Norwich City; Claire remained in Cardiff working in a local newsagent. Bellamy and Claire had their first child together—a son named Ellis—at the ages of 17 and 16 respectively. Claire and Ellis remained in Cardiff while Bellamy commuted to Norwich. The couple eventually moved into their own accommodation in 1996 after Bellamy signed his first professional playing contract. Their second child, Cameron, was born in January 2001 and their third, Lexi, in 2007.

Bellamy proposed to Jansen on 13 July 2005 at The Lowry Hotel in Manchester, and they married in June 2006 at St Bride's Church in St. Brides-super-Ely, a village near Cardiff. With Bellamy moving clubs on a regular basis, the family bought a permanent home in Peterston-super-Ely; Bellamy lived near his club and travelled home when possible. The couple divorced in December 2012; his wife cited "unreasonable behaviour". In his autobiography, Bellamy stated the couple split after "she decided she'd had enough. Enough of the moving and the following me round. Enough of the absentee husband. Enough of the selfishness and the black moods and the times when I wouldn't talk to her because I was worried about a knee injury."

In 2013, Bellamy released his autobiography entitled GoodFella which was ghostwritten by journalist Oliver Holt. In the book, Bellamy said he suffered severe bouts of depression, particularly when he was unable to play football for long periods due to injury. He wrote, "There would be weeks, sometimes months, when I couldn't get myself out of it". Bellamy is an advocate of mixed martial arts and has sponsored some of the fighters who train at Tillery Combat, a gym in Abertillery, Wales, providing them with supplements, kit and management advice through his company Shin2Chin. He also owns Cardiff Combat MMA gym.

Philanthropy

In 2007, Bellamy was invited to visit Sierra Leone by a friend. The country was still suffering from the effects of a long civil war that ended five years previously. Bellamy was mobbed by fans and was unable to freely walk the streets without an armed police escort as crowds blocked roads trying to see him. He visited the country's diamond mining industry and was shocked at the poor living conditions of the workers, often children. He decided to set up a charity in the country and, on 6 May 2008, plans for The Craig Bellamy Foundation were announced in Sierra Leone. Bellamy spent £1.4m of his own money to build a not-for-profit football academy in the Western Area Rural District village Tombo, where 32 boys received an international standard education and elite-level football coaching at no cost to themselves. The first 15 children were enrolled at the academy in August 2010.

The Craig Bellamy Foundation also operated a nationwide youth league that was founded in conjunction with UNICEF. Operating in the Freetown, Bo, Kenema and Makeni regions, The Craig Bellamy Foundation League provided a national youth football framework for children; as well as on-pitch performance, points were awarded for school attendance, fair play and contributions to community projects. The league also funded the school fees of participating children and employed 175 Sierra Leonian team coaches, regional managers and league coordinators. In 2009, 1,600 boys aged between 11 and 14 played or trained in the league on a daily basis. All activities were stopped in April 2017 due to financial irregularities.

Bellamy is also a supporter of Noah's Ark Children's Hospital for Wales, part of the University of Wales Hospital, where both he and his three children were born. In 2010, he became a charity champion for Noah's Ark, a charity that was aiming to raise £7 million to complete a construction project at the site.

Career statistics

Club

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League National Cup League Cup Continental Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Norwich City 1996–97 First Division 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
1997–98 First Division 36 13 1 0 1 0 38 13
1998–99 First Division 40 17 0 0 5 2 45 19
1999–2000 First Division 4 2 0 0 0 0 4 2
2000–01 First Division 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Total 84 32 1 0 6 2 0 0 91 34
Coventry City 2000–01 Premier League 34 6 2 1 3 1 39 8
Newcastle United 2001–02 Premier League 27 9 3 0 3 4 6 1 39 14
2002–03 Premier League 29 7 1 0 0 0 6 2 36 9
2003–04 Premier League 16 5 0 0 0 0 8 5 24 10
2004–05 Premier League 21 7 1 0 2 0 5 3 29 10
Total 93 28 5 0 5 4 25 11 128 43
Celtic (loan) 2004–05 Scottish Premier League 12 7 3 2 0 0 15 9
Blackburn Rovers 2005–06 Premier League 27 13 1 2 4 2 32 17
Liverpool 2006–07 Premier League 27 7 0 0 2 0 12 2 41 9
West Ham United 2007–08 Premier League 8 2 0 0 1 2 9 4
2008–09 Premier League 16 5 1 0 0 0 17 5
Total 24 7 1 0 1 2 0 0 26 9
Manchester City 2008–09 Premier League 8 2 0 0 0 0 3 2 11 4
2009–10 Premier League 32 10 3 1 5 0 40 11
Total 40 12 3 1 5 0 3 2 51 15
Cardiff City (loan) 2010–11 Championship 35 11 0 0 0 0 35 11
Liverpool 2011–12 Premier League 27 6 3 1 6 2 36 9
Cardiff City 2012–13 Championship 33 4 0 0 0 0 33 4
2013–14 Premier League 22 2 0 0 0 0 22 2
Total 90 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 90 17
Career total 458 135 19 7 32 13 40 15 549 170

International

Honours

Celtic

Liverpool

Cardiff City

Individual

  • PFA Young Player of the Year Award: 2001–02
  • Blackburn Rovers Player of the Season: 2005–06
  • Welsh Footballer of the Year Award: 2007
  • Premier League Goal of the Month: April 2006, September 2009

See also

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