Craig Bellamy and the shadow of his former self

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Norwich City v Cardiff City - Barclays Premier League

Liverpool will have to beat Cardiff City on Saturday to stay in the race for the title. Ex-Red Craig Bellamy currently plays for the Bluebirds and will encounter some of his old friends at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Craig Bellamy moved to Liverpool after they paid a £6 million get-out clause. Unfortunately he was very inconsistent in which proved to be his only season at Liverpool. He made 33 starts and nine substitute appearances. He did showed his talents, but only on occasions.

However Bellamy made a surprise return, on the last day of the 2011 summer transfer-window, to the Merseysiders. Luckily this time he proved everybody wrong, he was one of the big success stories of the season as he appeared in almost three-quarters of the 51 first-team matches. He played a big role in bringing the club to the final of the League Cup when he scored an important goal. He also started as a substitute in the FA Cup semi-final with Everton at Wembley and laid on the winning goal for Andy Carroll, yes Carroll scored important goals too.

Bellamy left for Cardiff in August 2012, and now on 22 March 2014 he is likely to play some minutes against Liverpool. A game I look forward to and so does Brendan Rodgers as he talked about him in an exclusive interview at Melwood.

Rodgers concedes he was saddened to lose the services of Bellamy – so did I – but had full respect of his desire to join Cardiff. Craig wanted to live with his family, having been forced to live apart while he was at Liverpool

“It’s one of my only regrets, really, that I never got the chance to work with Craig.

“I’ve followed him in his career right the way through; an outstanding player, very honest, speaks his mind, but is an ultimate professional.

“He always prepares himself well. He’s given his life to being a footballer. He’s a big Liverpool supporter and did very, very well here.

“When I came in, he had a year left on his contract but for other reasons he needed to move back home – and that was a regret because I’ve always seen him from the outside as someone who was very passionate about football, but who had great qualities.”

Brendan talked in this interviews about his ‘great qualities’, but what were Bellamy’s qualities?

 Craig Bellamy and the shadow of his former self (2)

Back in the days, Craig Bellamy was pretty darn fast. The acceleration and turn of pace that he used opened up space for overlapping teammates. Of course he wasn’t a Messi or Ronaldo because, for all the pace, he still wouldn’t be much use if he didn’t use it to run at the defenders.

Secondly, he was able to strike up seemingly telepathic partnerships with multiple players: Dirk Kuyt, Jose Enrique, Steven Gerrard and more. His acute awareness of overall positional play and attacking movement, coupled with his eye for a pass, made him a main threat for Liverpool. He wasn’t selfish at all and had the skills to set up his teammates for goal scoring chances, like the cross against Everton in the FA-Cup semi-final.

I loved Bellamy’s mentality and attitude, the same with Dirk Kuyt as they never walked around the pitch. Bellamy is constantly on his marker, and his work rate sees him track opposing defenders when he doesn’t have possession of the ball. That’s what I love about those kinds of players; the desire to win every ball and to form a first line of defense.

Craig Bellamy will always be remembered and I hope that he will play tomorrow and has a game, a good game, but as Rodgers also said: “Not too good of a game.”

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