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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2007, 14:42 GMT
Bellamy in focus
By Richard Hookham

Craig Bellamy
Bellamy celebrates his Nou Camp strike for Liverpool

Craig Bellamy: Misunderstood goal-hunting genius or a manager's uncontrollable nightmare?

The Welsh international's career has been littered with more contradictions than President Richard Nixon's guide to White House etiquette.

Blessed with uncanny speed and agility, Bellamy couples his undoubted striking prowess with a seemingly intrinsic ability to annoy opposing fans, managers and his own team-mates.

Court-room appearances and nightclub brawls have sadly been as much of the Bellamy story as his on-field exploits - but without doubt he's a talented big game player when he puts his mind to it.

This week encapsulated Bellamy's life in the beautiful game.

It began with reports of a training camp bust-up with Liverpool team-mate John Arne Riise.

It ended with Bellamy scoring one and setting up the winner for - who else? - Riise, as the Reds sealed a brilliant 2-1 Champions League victory in Barcelona.

Such is Bellamy's melodramatic life on and off the pitch, manager Rafael Benitez could have almost written the script and handed it in to the Uefa officials with his team-sheet at the Nou Camp.

His colourful career has attracted pure venom from some big names in the game - while others have struggled to hide their admiration of his goal-scoring instincts.

So here, BBC Sport recalls just some of the opinions from some key figures in the game who have voiced their views of football's one-man soccer soap opera.

THE LAD'S NOT BAD

  • Gordon Strachan (when Coventry manager):

  • "He is not a one dimensional player, he has a bit of everything and has the ability and intelligence to take information on."
    (After signing Bellamy for Coventry, August 2000).
    Craig Bellamy

    Norwich City: August 1996-August 2000
    Coventry City: August 2000 - June 2001
    June 2001: Signs for Newcastle
    Sept 2002: 3-game ban for butting Dynamo Kiev player
    Nov 2002: 3-game ban for hitting Inter Milan defender
    March 2004: Punch-up with Newcastle coach John Carver at Newcastle Airport
    Jan 2005: Calls Graeme Souness a liar and fined 80,000
    Feb 2005: Joins Celtic on loan
    July 2005: Joins Blackburn, scoring 17 goals
    July 2006: joins Liverpool
    Feb 2007: scores in 2-1 win over Barcelona in Nou Camp

  • Mark Hughes (Blackburn manager):

  • "We've got a player who I feel is one of the best of his type in Europe."
    (After signing Bellamy for Rovers in July 2005).

  • Martin O'Neill (former Celtic manager):

  • "Craig played in midfield and I thought he was Lubo Moravcik for a while, making little incisive passes in around the box."
    (O'Neill praises Bellamy during his Parkhead loan spell).

  • Neil Warnock (Sheffield United boss):

  • "I don't think Craig's self-belief is a bad thing - strikers are a different breed."
    (the former BBC Sports columnist on Bellamy's on-field confidence).

  • Steve Bruce (Birmingham boss):

  • "Craig's a quality player, quality players don't become available very often and that's why we've made the offer."
    (On trying to buy the striker from Newcastle in January 2005).

    WELSH SPIRIT

  • John Toshack (Wales manager):

  • "Craig is the closest thing to Kevin Keegan. Their work-rates are very similar - Craig just runs and runs, and so did Kevin."
    (Toshack compares Bellamy to his old Liverpool team-mate, November 2006).

  • Dean Saunders:

  • "When Craig turns up for training, he trains properly and when he plays he has a go and puts 100% effort in. He is a top professional, with a proven temperament, and is a great ambassador for Wales." (After Bellamy was being made Wales stand-in captain, October 2006)

    NEWCASTLE TURMOIL

  • Sir Bobby Robson:

  • "What Craig Bellamy should do is just honour his contract. At the moment, he is doing too much talking. He should just concentrate on playing and scoring goals for this club."
    (The ex-Newcastle manager shows his frustration in August 2004)

    Terry McDermott, Graeme Souness and Dean Saunders
    Conflicting views: McDermott, Souness and Saunders

  • Graeme Souness:

  • "He can't play for me ever again. He has been a disruptive influence from the minute I walked into this club. He can't go on television and accuse me of telling lies."
    (The former Magpies boss was left fuming after another Craig outburst in January 2005)

  • Former Newcastle assistant Terry McDermott:
    "I've never come across so much hatred and unrest over one person - what I've learned about him has astonished me."
    (After Bellamy's row with Graeme Souness).

  • Newcastle chairman Freddie Shepherd
  • :
    "Alan Shearer told Bellamy he would knock his block off if he ever returned to Newcastle."
    (After Bellamy reportedly sent insulting text messages to Shearer after losing to Man United in the FA Cup semi-final.)

    THE MODEL PRO?

  • John Hartson:

  • "I'll be having a word. I've been here four years now and you simply cannot afford to go around like he does and say the things he does".
    (The ex-Celtic striker was happy to give advice while Bellamy was on loan at Parkhead).

    ANFIELD HERO

  • Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez:

  • "He has the ability, the pace and the talent we've been looking for."
    (After Bellamy signs in June 2006)

    "I am really pleased for Bellamy and Riise. The atmosphere in the team is very good. The training camp in Portugal was helpful. The players' commitment was good before and after the problems."
    (After the Reds' 2-1 win in the Nou Camp this week)

  • Ian Rush:

  • "Bellamy's got that extra quality the team has been lacking, which is lightning pace. For me, there's no risk at all at 6m."
    (The Reds' legendary striker on Bellamy's transfer to Liverpool last summer).


    SEE ALSO
    Barcelona 1-2 Liverpool
    21 Feb 07 |  Europe
    Benitez hails fracas duo's effort
    22 Feb 07 |  Liverpool
    Benitez accepts players' apology
    21 Feb 07 |  Liverpool
    Dean Saunders on Wales' new captain
    05 Oct 06 |  Internationals
    Robson warns Bellamy
    26 Aug 04 |  Newcastle United
    Bellamy was hated, says McDermott
    03 Feb 05 |  Newcastle United
    Newcastle fine Bellamy after row
    25 Jan 05 |  Newcastle United
    Bellamy makes switch to Blackburn
    07 Jul 05 |  Blackburn Rovers
    Souness re-opens Bellamy dispute
    02 Feb 05 |  Newcastle United


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