OMB’s Top Ten Premier League Entertainers… #5 Craig Bellamy

I’m counting down the top ten players who have made me laugh and (almost) cry since the start of the Premier League. The list doesn’t only take into account how these players performed on the field, it also takes into account how they performed off the field too… In fifth place, Craig Bellamy.

In total, Craig Bellamy has amassed £45 million pounds in transfer fees. He is the Cardiff born centre-forward who started his career at Norwich and went on to play for six Premier League clubs. Undoubtably a great player, but it will probably be his behavioural skills that most will remember him for when he retires.

After becoming professional with Norwich in 2006, Bellamy went on to spend four years with the Canaries, making his first team debut against Crystal Palace in 1997. From there he moved on to Coventry City, where he spent one season. The Sky Blues were relegated at the end of that year and Bellamy had scored only six goals, but that didn’t stop Newcastle spending £6m on him.

The Welshman spent four seasons at Newcastle, playing 128 times and scoring 43 goals. He then had a successful spell in Scotland, on loan at Celtic, before returning to the Premier League and hooking up with his old international manager, Mark Hughes, at Blackburn Rovers.

Where are we? Ah, yes, Blackburn! He moved from Ewood Park to Anfield in the summer of 2006 and stated…

The fact that it was Liverpool made it impossible for me to turn them down. As I’m a fan, it doesn’t matter what club I was at. I could never turn Liverpool down.

However, a year later, he found himself signing for West Ham United, before moving to Manchester City for a whopping £14 million pounds in 2009. Bellamy is still an employee of the Manchester club, but is currently on a season long loan to Cardiff.

If You’re Looking For Trouble, You’ve Come To The Right Place

Nobody will argue that Craig Bellamy isn’t a great football player. During spells at each of his Premier League clubs, he could be described as one of their best players at the time. However, there is no question that he has been the biggest trouble maker the league has seen.

Apparently, his rebellious streak started when he was a youngster at Norwich. He recently said in an interview

I spent nights crying myself to sleep with homesickness. I spent months with that in Norwich, months when I was looking for any excuse to get out of it. I would try to break every rule

But even when he moved on from Norwich, it didn’t take long for him to hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. After an injury filled year at Coventry, he moved to Newcastle, where his manager, Sir Bobby Robson, said he was…

a great player wrapped round an unusual and volatile character

He wasn’t lying. In 2004, he had his first big bust up, with Newcastle coach, John Carver, at Newcastle Airport. The argument got so heated that Bellamy picked up a chair and hurled it at Carver.

A year later, Craig went one step further and was fined £80k by Newcastle. The fine was given after he allegedly told manager, Graeme Souness, that he would fake injury if he forced him to play out of position.

One incident during his time at Liverpool will go down as the most famous Bellamy confrontation. During a Liverpool club trip to the Algarve in 2007, he got angry with Norwegian international, John Arne Riise. The reason? Apparently, Riise refused to join him for a bit of karaoke on a night out. Later on in the evening, Bellamy is alleged to have swung a golf club in his teammate’s direction. Over a bit of karaoke? Must have been a Robson & Jerome number. The player later mocked the incident after Bellamy scored for the club at Barcelona’s Nou Camp…

Bellamy is currently on a season-long loan at Cardiff City. The reason for that is also embroiled in controversy. After performing admirably for Manchester City throughout the 2009/10 season, the start of the 2010/11 season saw rumours that the player would be left out of the allocated 25 squad places that the club had to submit for their forthcoming Premier League campaign. It was blamed on the fact that he’d fallen out with yet another manager, this time, Roberto Mancini. Not long after the squad was announced (minus Bellamy), he moved a division lower to to his hometown club. He has recently stated that he will return to City at the end of the season so it’s a good bet that more drama lies ahead.

My Favourite Craig Bellamy Story

When at Newcastle, Bellamy’s strike partner was Toon and England legend, Alan Shearer. The two struck it off on the pitch and clashed off it, but the feud didn’t reach its peak until after Bellamy had been sent to Celtic on loan.

According to ‘Bellers’, when Shearer had heard that Celtic had won 5-0 and the Welshman had not got on the scoresheet, he had a little laugh at his expense.

I’d just played in a match for Celtic when we hit five against someone but I didn’t get on the scoresheet,” Bellamy said.

“When he heard about it, Al said to Kieron Dyer ‘They scored five and he hasn’t got a f*****g goal, that’s how good he’s doing up there is it?’

At this point, he is alleged to have sent an abusive text message to one of England’s greatest ever strikers, saying the following…

Your legs are gone, you’re too old, you’re too slow

The story caused outrage in Newcastle, who were still Bellamy’s parent club. As soon as his loan ended, he moved to Blackburn Rovers on a permanent deal.

Since then, Bellamy has spoken about the incident, saying…

I heard about it so after the semi-final, I sent him the text and it got leaked. About 97 per cent of what I was supposed to have said about Al was b******t. He’s not fat and I wouldn’t say he was lazy. I don’t think he could run but that’s why I was there. He’s still the best forward I’ve ever played with.

But when a rumour started two years after Bellamy left Newcastle, linking him with a shock return, Shearer’s reaction was…

I was having a few days away in France with Gary Speed and Steve Harper and the wives and I picked up a newspaper. I was having a fantastic day but when I read Bellamy for Newcastle, I thought I would definitely have to have another drink, so I had several.

Has no one learned their lesson about signing him? If only Rafa Benitez had rung me, I would?ve told him exactly what he was like. I hope there isn?t anything in it.

Oooh, maybe Craig’s text wasn’t 97% b******t after all.

My Favourite Craig Bellamy Moment

Early in 2010, England and Chelsea captain, John Terry, was accused of having an affair with Wayne Bridge’s girlfriend. The public did not react well to the story and he was stripped of his England captaincy by Fabio Capello.

Bridge had moved to Manchester City and just after the story broke, the two men were due to face off at Stamford Bridge. The match was highly anticipated as Bridge admitted that he would refuse to shake hands with the man who allegedly betrayed his trust.

But, after 90 minutes, neither of those two players were grabbing the headlines.

Our hero, Bellamy, decided to become a one-man revenge act that day. Everyone watching the match (with the exception of Chelsea fans) was willing Manchester City to get a result. ‘Bellers’ had a stormer, scored two goals in a 4-2 demoliton of the home side and was pretty outspoken in his post match interview.

A triumph of good over evil… or something like that!

Find out who else made it into The Entertainers

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