New Wales boss Bellamy out to prove concerns over temperament unfounded


Craig Bellamy has been named as the new Wales manager.

Bellamy succeeds Rob Page – who was sacked last month – after turning down the opportunity to stay at Burnley under new manager Scott Parker.

He has signed a contract until 2028.

Senior FAW (Football Association of Wales) figures including chief executive Noel Mooney and technical director David Adams had been at the heart of the search for Wales’ new manager.

Bellamy, 44, is a former Wales captain who played 78 times for his country between 1998 and 2013.

“It’s an incredible honour for me to be given the opportunity to lead my country and it’s the proudest moment of my career,” Bellamy said in a statement released on the FAW’s official website.

“It was always my ultimate dream to become the Cymru head coach and I am ready for the challenge.

“I will give my full commitment to develop this team and I am passionate to bring continued success into Welsh football. I can’t wait to get started with our Nations League games in September.”

Bellamy’s first game in charge will be on Friday September 6, when Turkey visit the Cardiff City Stadium.

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We take a look back at Craig Bellamy’s best goals from the Welshman’s time in the Premier League as a player, after being announced as head coach of his country

‘I just couldn’t turn it down’

After leaving Burnley – where he had worked as first team coach under Vincent Kompany since July 2022 – Bellamy penned a message to the Clarets’ fans.

“From the first moment I walked into the training ground at Burnley, I knew it was the right club for me and I have loved every moment since.

“The relationships I have with Alan [Pace], JJ [Watt] and all the people at the club, in every department, made my time at Burnley special and leaving a truly difficult decision.

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Bellamy had been working under Vincent Kompany at Burnley

“But the chance to be the manager of Wales, my country, has always been a dream that has never left me and a chance I just couldn’t turn down.

“I wish Scotty all the very best, he’s a good person and a close friend and the club is in great hands.

“To all the Burnley fans that made me feel so welcome – thank you and I’ll see you again soon! Belluz.”

Clarets chairman Alan Pace added: “I want to thank Craig for all his hard work during his time at Burnley and wish him the best for his new position as Wales manager.”

“Craig has been a very important part of our wonderful journey the last two years. I’ve admired his leadership, knowledge and passion.”

“I am certain that he will continue to find success in his new role and I wish him the very best of luck.”

Bellamy’s career in focus

A nomadic club career

In a 17-year senior playing career Bellamy played for nine different clubs, two of them in two different spells. After coming through the ranks at Norwich, Bellamy instantly regretted joining Coventry in a £6.5million move and moved to Newcastle a year later in 2001. A productive spell alongside Alan Shearer came to an end after Graeme Souness replaced Sir Bobby Robson as manager, and Bellamy joined Celtic on loan before his former Wales boss Mark Hughes signed him for Blackburn. A year later he joined Liverpool, reaching the Champions League final, but left after one season for West Ham. Eighteen months later, Hughes took him to Manchester City, but he lost his place after two seasons and went to Cardiff on loan before a surprise return to Liverpool, winning the League Cup in 2012. Bellamy spent one year at Anfield but then returned to Cardiff, helping the Welsh club earn promotion to the Premier League.

Wales captain

An 18-year-old Bellamy made his international debut for Wales in March 1998, and three months later scored his first goal in a 3-0 win over Malta. Under Hughes, Wales reached the play-offs in the Euro 2004 qualifiers, but injury ruled out Bellamy as the Dragons lost to Russia. Bellamy missed the start of John Toshack’s reign through injury but was made captain in October 2006 in the absence of Ryan Giggs. He became vice-captain on Giggs’ return a month later but it was only a temporary demotion before Giggs retired the following June – although injuries continued to disrupt Bellamy’s international career. He postponed his planned international retirement when Gary Speed took the job in December 2010, but stepped down as captain to focus on his fitness. He announced his international retirement in October 2013 after Wales missed out on a place at the 2014 World Cup.

Controversies

When Robson signed Bellamy for Newcastle, he described the forward as “a great player wrapped around an unusual and volatile character”. Though he thrived on the pitch, Bellamy’s time at Newcastle was marked by a police caution for common assault, a £750 fine for using foul and abusive language outside a Cardiff nightclub, and a public altercation with coach John Carver in Mallorca. When at Liverpool, having appeared in court in 2006 and been found not guilty over the alleged assault of two women in Cardiff, Bellamy had an altercation with team-mate John Arne Riise, striking him with a golf club – leading to headlines calling him “the nutter with the putter”.

Coaching career

After his playing career, Bellamy worked as an academy coach at Cardiff initially on a voluntary basis before being appointed player development manager. He pulled out of a move to become Oxford boss after the club was taken over, then stepped down at Cardiff to defend himself against claims of bullying – something he denied and was not subject to formal disciplinary action for but later apologised if he “inadvertently offended anyone”. His former team-mate Vincent Kompany then came calling in June 2019. Bellamy served as Kompany’s assistant at Anderlecht for two years, before stepping down in September 2021, citing mental health issues. When Kompany joined Burnley in July 2022, Bellamy returned to his staff, remaining at Turf Moor when the Belgian joined Bayern Munich this summer.

‘Bellamy will be expected to qualify for World Cup’

Sky Sports News’ Geraint Hughes:

“It was a fairly extensive and exhaustive search. The FAW said they would look beyond Welsh coaches, and look at the other Home Nations and abroad.

“We know they spoke to a number of candidates. Osian Roberts, who was previously an assistant under Chris Coleman and is now at Como in Italy, was spoken to but said it wasn’t the right time.

Rob Page led Wales to their first World Cup for 64 years in 2022
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Rob Page was sacked this summer after missing out on Euro 2024

Thierry Henry was spoken to, as was Willy Sagnol, the Georgia manager. But it was always about the right person for the role and given there is a great link between the Welsh team, the Welsh people and the Welsh language, having a Welsh person there is something that fits.

“With Bellamy, you’d have to go far to find someone as passionate about his country as he is. He won’t have a huge amount of time because the Nations League is up shortly – Bellamy’s first match will be against Turkey in Cardiff on September 6.

“After that is qualification for the World Cup. Wales want and expect to be there, and missing out on the Euros is one of the reasons Rob Page lost his job.”

Bellamy will hold no fear promoting young talent

Bellamy won 78 Wales caps between 1998 and 2013
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Bellamy won 78 Wales caps between 1998 and 2013

Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds:

“Bellamy almost got the job in 2018, narrowly losing out to Giggs. Six years on, the FAW feels the 44-year-old is better equipped to do the job given his time on the touchline alongside Kompany.

“There were suggestions that he could remain there as Scott Parker’s assistant at Burnley but Bellamy’s passion for Wales – he proudly wears a tattoo tribute to Owain Glyndwr, the last native-born Welshman to claim the title Prince of Wales – meant he was never going to turn his country down.

“As a player, he was a firebrand who courted controversy on and off the field as much as he left defenders trailing with his blistering speed.

Bellamy has worked as a pundit for Sky Sports
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Bellamy has worked as a pundit for Sky Sports

“He has mellowed with age, do not be surprised to see Bellamy cut a colourful figure on touchlines or in press conferences. What can not be disputed is that Bellamy is a student of the game – even as a young man he would head off to the continent to analyse how teams played.

The FAW has stressed the ambition is to “consistently qualify” for major tournaments after reaching Euro 2016, Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup. Bellamy’s deal will take him through qualifying periods for the 2026 World Cup and Euro 2028, which will be co-hosted by Wales.

“Despite failure to reach Euro 2024, there is no shortage of talent – Brennan Johnson, Daniel James, David Brooks, Ethan Ampadu, Harry Wilson, Jordan James and Neco Williams.

“Teenagers Charlie Crew and Lewis Koumas, already capped at senior level, will develop. Bellamy cut his coaching teeth in the Cardiff academy and will hold no fear promoting young talent into his Wales squad.”

Earnshaw: Bellamy has changed since playing days

Wales' Robert Earnshaw and Craig Bellamy (right) during the launch of the new Kappa kit at Carden Park Hotel, near Wrexham. Wales will wear the new kit when playing their friendly international against Norway in Oslo on Thursday and Canada at Wrexham on Sunday.
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Robert Earnshaw played alongside Craig Bellamy for Wales

Robert Earnshaw, the former Wales striker who played alongside Bellamy for his country, told Sky Sports News: “It’s an excellent appointment.

“When I was thinking, ‘who could take Wales forward?’ He was one of the first names I thought about. He’s got a very sharp mind, a great passion for the game and they’ve made the right choice.”

Earnshaw also dismissed fears over Bellamy’s lack of experience, saying: “It’s a step up, but I’ve seen it. Mark Hughes, who gave me my debut, went on to do great things with Wales and other clubs. It was his first job.

“Gary Speed’s first big role was with Wales. This is in the same category. He’s waited for an opportunity like this. He’s ready for it.”

He’s [Bellamy] changed a little bit and tweaked how he thinks and talks, as you have to as a manager. He’s going to bring that energy.

Former Wales international Robert Earnshaw on SSN

Bellamy was renowned for his fiery personality as a player, but Earnshaw says his former international team-mate has mellowed since moving into coaching, explaining: “In the dressing room, he’s very much like you see. He’s very passionate. He tells it as it is.

“He’s changed a little bit and tweaked how he thinks and talks, as you have to as a manager. He’s going to bring that energy. There’s never going to be a dull moment with Craig.

“But he’s an excellent coach. I got to go to Anderlecht a few years ago and see him close hand. He had a young Jeremy Doku at the time.

“The way he spoke with the players and detail he gave them, I came away impressed. He’s slightly different to the player Craig Bellamy.”



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