Craig Douglas Bellamy (born 13 July 1979) is a Welsh footballer who plays as a winger/striker for Liverpool and the Welsh national team. Born in Cardiff, Bellamy was the captain of the Welsh national side for four years after taking over from Ryan Giggs in 2007, but stood down in January 2011 due to injuries. Since making his professional debut for Norwich City in 1997, he has played for a number of clubs in England, making his name at Newcastle United when signed by Bobby Robson in 2001 and has also had a loan spell with Scottish Premier League side Celtic in 2005. On 31 August 2011, Bellamy completed a move back to former club Liverpool from Manchester City.
During his career, Bellamy has won the Scottish Cup, the FA Community Shield and the Football League Cup. He has also been criticised for his behaviour both on and off the pitch, but has accumulated millions of pounds for various charities and has also established a football academy in Sierra Leone.
Bellamy began his footballing career as a three-year-old at Bristol Rovers, and spent two years at the club before being brought into the youth system of Norwich City. His first team debut for the Canaries came at Arsenal on 15 March 1997. The 18 year-old Bellamy became a first team regular during the 1997–98 season, making 38 appearances with 13 goals. On 22 August 1998, Bellamy scored Norwich's 5000th league goal in competitive football, scoring the second (a penalty) in the Canaries 4–2 win over Queens Park Rangers Despite this personal high, he missed two months of that 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, though still managed to find the net twice in the final four games of the season following his comeback. 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 £6,500,000, financed through the sale of Robbie Keane to Inter Milan for a fee of around £13,000,000 in the same summer. In 2002, Norwich fans voted Bellamy into the Norwich City Hall of Fame.
Bellamy had an unsuccessful start to his career with Coventry, scoring only three league goals by the start of December, two of which were penalties, though on 10 December 2000 he scored the winning goal in a 1–0 victory over Martin O'Neill's high-flying Leicester City to gain his side a crucial three points. This fuelled rumours of a return to Norwich, which never materialised. Coventry stood by their man despite them facing relegation. Bellamy stated that he would want to leave if they dropped down a division. This happened as the team finished 19th in the Premier League, ending 34 consecutive years in the English top flight, with Bellamy notching up a disappointing eight goals in total from 39 appearances, 6 of which in the league.
Bellamy moved to Newcastle United in July 2001. Sir Bobby Robson later wrote that he was "a great player wrapped round an unusual and volatile character." His Newcastle career got off to a flying start as he scored on his home debut in their 1–0 win over Belgian side Lokeren in the Intertoto Cup in July and he famously nutmegged former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel on his way to two goals in a 3–0 win against Aston Villa in November. Under manager Bobby Robson he formed a very productive striking partnership with Alan Shearer, Bellamy's pace complementing the former England captain's guile. At the end of his first season, Bellamy had scored 14 goals for the Magpies, and was awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
During his second season at Newcastle United, came arguably his most important moment for the club as he scored two goals (including the winner) in a 3–2 win over Feyenoord, which took Newcastle through to the second group stage of the UEFA Champions League. Unfortunately, in the next match in the group just two weeks later, (a 4–1 home defeat to Inter Milan), he was sent off for kicking out at Inter defender Marco Materazzi, which resulted in a three-match ban. He had also scored the opening goal in the September derby match against Sunderland at St. James Park and finished the season with nine goals from 36 appearances.
In March 2004, he threw a chair at then first-team coach John Carver after a public falling out between the two. The altercation occurred with the club on the way to play a Uefa Cup fixture with Real Mallorca and Bellamy refused to travel. However, Sir Bobby Robson managed to persuade him to come after a lengthy discussion. Bellamy praised Robson's man management abiity for his handling of the incident.
Bellamy again managed nine goals as his team reached the UEFA Cup semi-finals, eventually losing out 2–0 on aggregate to Marseille, though he also played considerably fewer games from his two previous seasons at Newcastle United, a sign of things to come, as Bellamy's career was blighted by injury in the next few years.
After Bobby Robson's controversial sacking in August 2004, Bellamy had a very public falling-out with his replacement as Newcastle manager, Graeme Souness, who also had altercations with stars including Laurent Robert and Olivier Bernard. Despite the two claiming that the rift had been healed after Bellamy scored a last-minute winner in a 4–3 victory over Manchester City in late October, it was announced on 23 January 2005 that the player had been omitted from the team for a Premier League match with Arsenal at Highbury stadium, a game that ended 1–0 in the Gunners' favour. Before the match, Souness said that Bellamy had been left out due to 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 saying he was prepared to play in any position for his club. However, with his Newcastle United career hanging in the balance, he later admitted that he had threatened to fake injury ahead of the Arsenal match, though in a later interview accused Souness of lying about him and his commitment to the club. Souness responded by stating that Bellamy would never play in a Newcastle United shirt again while he was manager and consequently the club fined Bellamy two weeks' wages (about £80,000). Bellamy's last goal for the club came in a UEFA Cup group stage match against Sporting Lisbon in December, in a 1–1 draw at St. James Park, his 10th goal for Newcastle that season. Bellamy ended his Newcastle career with a total of 42 goals from 128 appearances.
Bellamy made himself further unwelcome at St James' Park when some abusive text messages were allegedly sent from his phone to club captain Alan Shearer after Newcastle's FA Cup semi-final defeat by Manchester United in April 2005, while the player was still on-loan to Celtic for the remainder of that season. At the time, Bellamy was with the Celtic squad in Ireland for Jackie McNamara's testimonial golf day. Bellamy's agent insisted his mobile had been lost at the time and that he was not responsible for the texts. Kenneth Shepherd, son of Newcastle chairman Freddy, also claimed he received gloating text messages. Shearer was alleged to have threatened to "knock his block off" should the player have returned to Newcastle United.
On 31 January 2005 (transfer deadline day) Bellamy was sent out on loan to Celtic of the Scottish Premier League for the remainder of the season. It was later announced by the player that he had shunned a move to Birmingham City to move to the Scottish Club.
He scored nine goals for Celtic in the remainder of the 2004–05 season, getting his first in a 5–0 win against then Scottish First Division side Clyde in the Scottish Cup on 27 February 2005. He also put in notable performances away to Dundee United, a game in which he scored a hat-trick in a 3–2 victory for the Bhoys, and a 2–1 victory over fierce old-firm rivals Rangers at Ibrox, where he scored the opener in a crucial game for his club. He ultimately lost out on winning the SPL as Celtic suffered a 2–1 defeat to Motherwell on the final day of the season. He did end the season on a personal high though, as he won the Scottish Cup, his first ever major career trophy after his team beat Dundee United, this time 1–0 at Hampden Park. The Glasgow club were keen to sign him permanently, but on 7 July 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 around £5 million. It had been reported that Bellamy was keen on a return to Celtic after his departure from Newcastle United, however a move back north wasn't to be.
Despite the controversy, that 2004–05 season proved to be Bellamys most fruitful to date, as he won that Scottish Cup winners medal as well as scoring 22 goals altogether for Newcastle, Celtic and Wales. Blackburn Rovers Bellamy signed a four year contract with Blackburn Rovers, where he was reunited with former Wales manager and team-mate Mark Hughes. He scored 17 goals for Rovers in 2005–06 (including two terrific efforts against Portsmouth at Fratton Park on 8 April 2006) in all competitions, in a highly successful but injury-tempered season, where the club finished in sixth place in the Premier League, marking a vast improvement on the previous seasons 15th position, qualifying for the 2006–07 Uefa Cup in the process. He formed a strong partnership with Shefki Kuqi. Bellamy provided a core part of the team, alongside goalkeeper Brad Friedel, defender Ryan Nelsen and midfielders Robbie Savage, Brett Emerton, Steven Reid and Morten Gamst Pedersen. Bellamy's rejuvenation sparked renewed interest in him from a handful of top clubs including Liverpool and Arsenal.
On 20 June 2006 he was the subject of a transfer bid from Liverpool, reportedly in the region of £6,000,000 triggering a clause in Bellamy's contract that obliged Blackburn to allow him permission to talk to the club.
He officially became a Liverpool player on 1 July 2006. Bellamy got off to a slow start for Liverpool, despite scoring on his debut against Maccabi Haifa in the Champions League 3rd qualifying round first leg on 9 August 2006, Bellamy however struggled for Premier League goals, eventually scoring his first in mid October, against former club Blackburn Rovers. After the match against Haifa, Bellamy set up the winner for Peter Crouch in the 81st minute of the 2006 FA Community Shield with a great cross from the left-hand corner of the 18 yard box. Bellamy finally made an impact for Liverpool, against Wigan Athletic, inspiring them Reds to a 4–0 victory with two goals and one assist, on 2 December 2006. 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 23 December 2006, followed by another goal on 13 January 2007 also against Watford to bring his season tally for Liverpool up to seven. 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 wages by the club. The incident earned him the nickname "The Nutter with the Putter". Manager Rafael Benítez accepted the players' apology. In the first match following the incident, away at Barcelona in a Champions League last-16 round first leg, Bellamy celebrated his 1–1 equalizer, after Deco had headed Barça into the lead, by emulating a golf stroke. He also set up the other goal, almost inevitably, for John Arne Riise. It was reported that Bellamy had announced to football results television programme "Wales on Saturday" on 28 April 2007 that he would leave Liverpool in the summer 2007 transfer window. His supposed given reasons were lack of communication with Benítez and conflicting opinions on how Bellamy could be best utilised.
The next day, Bellamy angrily dismissed this story on the club's official website. He said that he was disappointed that he had to deal with this issue while preparing for such as big a match as the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea. Bellamy reassured the fans that he was 100% committed to the club. He even stated that Benítez was the manager he had admired most during his career and wishes to emulate Benitez if he ever chooses to pursue a career in football management.
Liverpool went on to win the semi-final, and while on 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 AC Milan.
In the summer of 2007, Bellamy was the subject of a bid from West Ham United. The bid was accepted and Bellamy was on the move again after signing for the London club.
West Ham United
Bellamy completed a move to West Ham United for a fee of £7,500,000 on 10 July 2007, signing a five-year contract with the club and reuniting with former Norwich teammate Robert Green. This was at the time the Hammers' record signing.
Bellamy made his West Ham debut in an opening day 2–0 home defeat by Manchester City on 11 August 2007. His first two goals for West Ham were scored in a 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. His only goals for the club in 2007–08 were the brace against Rovers, the opener against Reading in early September and the opener against Middlesbrough a week later. Both matches finished 3–0 to the hammers. Bellamy returned to action in the third game of the 2008–09 season for the Hammers, scoring the third goal that made sure they beat Blackburn Rovers. They won 4–1 after Carlton Cole added a fourth (Bellamy's goal had come two minutes into stoppage time). It was his first goal in 6 months but his fifth goal for the Hammers in only his 10th appearance for the club since joining in July 2007.
After a string of impressive performances, Bellamy was reported to have attracted the attention of several clubs, and in the 2009 January transfer window he was linked to a host of clubs, including Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City. His manager Gianfranco Zola was reportedly unhappy with the way he felt Tottenham had tried to approach Bellamy, although he denied reports that Bellamy had gone on strike in protest at not being allowed to move – after Bellamy stormed out of training in protest. Two offers from Manchester City were rejected before on 18 January 2009, a third undisclosed bid, purported to be around £14 million was accepted by West Ham from City. In total, Bellamy made 26 appearances for the Hammers, scoring 9 goals, a strike rate of just under a goal every 3 games.
On 19 January 2009, Bellamy completed his move to Manchester City on a four and a half-year deal for an undisclosed fee believed to be around £14,000,000. On signing for the club his new manager Mark Hughes stated, "I'm sure Craig will be excellent for us, I think people will soon see why I wanted to bring him to the club. The fee that gets mentioned is invariably the wrong figure, it keeps being quoted as £19million, but that was not the price we paid for him." This took his career total of transfers to £47m. Bellamy became the second major signing by Manchester City of the transfer window after Wayne Bridge from Chelsea.
Bellamy marked his debut for City on 28 January with a goal against his former club Newcastle United at The City of Manchester Stadium in a 2–1 win scoring the winner, making him only the fifth player in Premier League history to have scored for six different top-flight clubs. Bellamy's next goal came against Middlesbrough in the Premier League where Bellamy sealed the three points in a 1–0 win for City. On 22 February 2009, he scored against his former club Liverpool at Anfield in a 1–1 draw, ironically denting his former employers title chances. He went on to score a brace for City on his European home debut just four days later on 26 February, dedicating the goals to his cousin who had died the previous night. Bellamy opened his account for the 2009–10 season with a goal in City's 4–2 win over Arsenal on 12 September 2009, before setting up Shaun Wright-Phillips for City's 4th goal, with a brilliant run from his own half. He followed that up a week later with two goals against Manchester United in a 4–3 derby defeat. His first was a brilliant 20-yard strike from the edge of the 18-yard box, his second came after Rio Ferdinand gifted possession to Martin Petrov, who played the ball through to Bellamy who rounded United keeper Ben Foster, to make the score 3–3 in the first minute of injury-time. The former goal was later named Goal of the Month for September 2009. After this derby a fan invaded the pitch but was dealt with by stewards quickly. While the fan was being escorted from the field, TV footage showed that Bellamy slapped the fan in the face. He was given a warning by the FA about his future conduct, however Manchester City stated they would not discipline Bellamy, instead offering their support to him.
As he became ever more popular with the Manchester City fans, Bellamy's next goal came at Villa Park on 5 October 2009, earning a point for his team after being 1–0 down at half-time. On 7 November 2009, Bellamy scored in a 3–3 draw against Burnley at the City of Manchester Stadium. He then scored again on 19 December against Sunderland in the 4–3 victory, which turned out to be Mark Hughes' last game in charge of the club. Bellamy was said to be upset at Hughes' dismissal, and has subsequently been linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Arsenal and dropped to the bench in Roberto Mancini's first game in charge against Stoke City. However, he played in matches under Mancini and made clear his desire to stay at Manchester City for the foreseeable future. He scored the equaliser against Stoke City, before losing 3–1 in Fifth round replay of the FA Cup. Bellamy then scored two goals at Stamford Bridge in the 4–2 win against Chelsea, giving Manchester City their first win at Stamford Bridge in 17 years.
In August 2010, Bellamy stated that he feared that he would be omitted from Manchester City's 25-man squad for the 2010-11 Premier League season and even hinted at retirement. On 11 August 2010, he was left out of Manchester City's 23 man Europa League squad to face Timisoara. The next week Bellamy was allowed to train with Cardiff City, fueling speculation that he might sign for his hometown club. When asked about such a move, Bellamy said that he would "love to play for Cardiff".
Cardiff City (loan)
Craig Bellamy playing for Cardiff On 17 August 2010, Bellamy signed for his hometown club, Cardiff City on a season-long loan from Manchester City. The deal kept him at the club until the end of the 2010–11 season. Cardiff manager Dave Jones confirmed that Bellamy would become team captain for the season with former captain Mark Hudson named club captain. He made his debut for the club on 21 August in a 4–0 win over Doncaster Rovers, in which he scored from a 35-yard free kick. After playing the subsequent game against Portsmouth, Bellamy missed the next five games due to a knee injury but came back and scored in a 2–1 win against Barnsley on 2 October. Bellamy went on to score in four consecutive home league matches against Coventry, Leeds, Watford and Reading. Bellamy scored the winning goal in the South Wales derby against Swansea City on 6 February 2011 with a typical Bellamy long shot in the dying minutes of the match.
Bellamy played a huge part in Cardiff's end of season push for promotion to the Premier League, creating numerous chances for team mates which lead to several assists and man of the match worthy performances. His talismanic influence was particularly evident in the 2–2 draw with league leaders Queens Park Rangers in April in which he scored the second goal. However, Cardiff led twice in the game before Adel Taarabt's brace held them to a draw. Automatic promotion was still a possibility if Cardiff won their remaining games in the season. However a horrendous 3–0 home defeat to Middlesbrough condemned Cardiff to settle for a 4th place finish and a play off spot for the second season running. Bellamy scored his last goal of the season with a superbly taken volley in the 90th minute to salvage a draw away at Turf Moor against Burnley. Going into the play offs, Bellamy suffered a hamstring injury in the first leg away to Reading, which meant he had to leave the field during the first half of the game. Cardiff went on to draw the match but then failed to capture promotion after losing 3–0 to Reading in the second leg of the semi-final, with Bellamy sorely missed by the Bluebirds due to his absence with a hamstring injury.
Bellamy stated that he would like to stay at Cardiff City beyond his loan spell to achieve his dream of them one day playing in the Premier League. After Cardiff manager Dave Jones' sacking, Bellamy became a surprise favourite to take over. However, the new Cardiff boss, Malky Mackay, who knew Bellamy from their days at Norwich, did not say whether he would attempt to sign Bellamy. Bellamy asked Manchester City to let him go on a free transfer after they put a £4,000,000 price tag on him.
Return to Liverpool
Bellamy warming up before facing Fulham On transfer deadline day, 31 August 2011, Bellamy returned to Liverpool on a free transfer and took the number 39 shirt. The following day, boyhood club Cardiff City revealed that they had failed in a last minute bid for the striker. Bellamy commented on the move "I've grown up with Kenny Dalglish, now to be signed by him is a massive honour. It's been a long couple of months, I had to be patient and believe something like this could happen." Bellamy's returning debut came against Stoke City in a 1–0 defeat at the Britannia Stadium. He scored his first goal for Liverpool following his return against Brighton & Hove Albion in the League Cup in the seventh minute of the game. He also rattled the bar from a 40 yard free kick. He scored his first league goal of his second spell on 22 October 2011 against Norwich City in a 1–1 draw. On 27 November 2011, Bellamy was withdrawn from the team for the game against Manchester City due to the death of his friend and coach Gary Speed. Two days later, he returned to the team and recorded assists for both Liverpool goals in a 2–0 win over Chelsea in the Carling Cup quarter-final. On December 30, 2011, Bellamy scored two crucial goals, a low drive and a free kick, against Newcastle United at home, securing a very much needed home win for Liverpool. On 6 January 2012, Bellamy scored his 150th goal in English football at Anfield against Oldham Athletic. On 21 January he scored against Bolton Wanderers in Liverpool's 3–1 loss. On 25 January 2012, he scored the equalizing goal against Manchester City to give Liverpool a 3–2 win on aggregate in the Carling Cup semi-final match. He was also issued Man Of The Match for his performance to help Liverpool face his home town club Cardiff in the Final at Wembley on 26 February 2012. On 31 January 2012, Bellamy scored his 7th consecutive goal in his last 7 starts, with Liverpool beating Wolves with a 3-0 score at the Molineux Stadium. On 26th February 2012 Craig won the Football League Cup 2-2 (3-2 on penalties) against his favourite and former club Cardiff City. On 14th April 2012, Bellamy provided the assist for Andy Carroll to score the winner as Liverpool beat rivals Everton 2-1 at Wembley, to reach their first FA Cup final in 6 years