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Page last updated at 14:08 GMT, Thursday, 29 May 2008 15:08 UK

Bellamy buzzing after milestone

Craig Bellamy believes he has returned from injury stronger than ever
Bellamy believes he has returned from injury stronger than ever

Wales captain Craig Bellamy was full of cheer after winning his 50th cap in Wales's 1-0 win against Iceland.

The West Ham striker came off the bench and put an injury-ravaged season behind him, as his young team-mates held on for victory in Reykjavik.

"It's an achievement to get 50 caps for any player and I'm no exception," Bellamy told BBC Sport Wales.

"But there were a lot of players making their debuts and for me that was more important than me winning a 50th cap."

Manchester City's 19-year-old striker Ched Evans claimed the win with a cheeky back-heeled goal after 44 minutes on his senior debut.

His team-mates who have come through the Under-21 ranks with him, Wolves striker Sam Vokes and West Ham midfielder Jack Collison, also won their first senior caps in Iceland.

"He [Evans] scored on his debut, that's a great bonus for him and a great honour as well and if he keeps improving he's got a real good future in the game," Bellamy added.

"We learned a lot, they would have learned a lot as well because Iceland had one or two chances and we need to learn to break, need to learn to keep the ball.

"With the players we've got coming through, they picked that up as well and they can lead us on in the next couple of years."

Bellamy, 28, has seen his career curtailed by injury, with this season's persistent abdominal problem - which required two surgeries - the latest to affect him.

He has made just eight starts for West Ham since a 7.5m move from Liverpool in July 2007.

But Bellamy is full of confidence that better times are ahead, a new chapter of his career begun by winning his 50th cap.

"I would have liked to have got it a lot earlier in my career, but the way it's been for me I'm just happy to get it to be honest," Bellamy said.

"Even if it's just 10 minutes in Iceland it's a massive honour.


"It's been a tough year, not just injury-wise, a lot has gone on off the pitch as well

"But I've worked as hard as I've ever done [to get back to full fitness] and I think you could see that.

"That was my first appearance in I don't know how long and I'm just looking forward to training through the summer now and keeping fit.

"I'm 28 and if I really want to attack my career I still know I've got the best couple of years ahead of me.

"This could break me if I approach my rehab in an 'east-osey' sort of way and not come back at the level I wanted to come back at, so I really attacked it and I think it will pay dividends for me over the next couple of years."

see also
Wales suffer Fletcher injury blow
29 May 08 |  Internationals
Evans revelling in 'flukey' goal
28 May 08 |  Internationals
Iceland 0-1 Wales
28 May 08 |  Internationals
Injured Bellamy out for six weeks
21 Feb 08 |  West Ham

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