Bellamy celebrating his goal - with a swing. (Photo: AP)
By Richard Hookham - BBC Sport Online
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
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
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
(After signing Bellamy for Coventry, August 2000).
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
(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
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
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,
Wales assistant boss 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)
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
Conflicting views: McDermott, Souness and Saunders
"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
THE MODEL PRO?
"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).
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez:
"He has the ability, the pace and the talent we've been
(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
(After the Reds' 2-1 win in the Nou Camp this week)
"Bellamy's got that extra quality the team has been lacking,
which is lightning pace. For me, there's no risk at all at
(The Reds' legendary striker on Bellamy's transfer to
Liverpool last summer).
Gerrard's respect for Barca
By Mark Buckingham - Sky Sports
Steven Gerrard insists Liverpool will not under-estimate
Barcelona ahead of their meeting at Anfield.
The Reds claimed the upper hand in their UEFA Champions
League last 16 tie with a 2-1 success at Camp Nou on
Goals from Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise put the 2005
winners in with a great chance of reaching the
quarter-finals of the competition.
But while Liverpool are in a strong position to qualify,
club captain Gerrard is not taking a place in the last eight
The midfielder is aware of the holders' quality and admits
The Reds can not afford to let their standards slip back on
"We've got an awful lot of respect for Barcelona, they're a
fantastic side," Gerrard told Sky Sports News.
"We won't under-estimate them at Anfield in two weeks' time,
we'll show them the same respect.
"We need to put in the same shift in two weeks' time and
hopefully we'll qualify."
Liverpool will be hoping to avoid a repeat of their last
home game with Barcelona, when the Spanish titans came from
behind to win 3-1 in November 2001.
best week of my life
By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
Nou Camp hero Craig Bellamy today brushed aside concerns
about his long-term Anfield future and insisted: “I’ve had
the best week of my life at Liverpool.”
The striker claimed the headlines for the right reasons in
the 2-1 win in Barcelona, scoring and creating the winner
for John Arne Riise during another historic Euro night for
After such a troubling few days, the script couldn’t have
been written more appropriately for the team mates involved
in the notorious Algarve dust-up.
Bellamy reflected on the last five days and claimed he had
no cause for regrets.
“This is the best moment I’ve had in football, the highlight
of my career. I’ve been lucky and had good times for my
country, but this is the best,” he said.
“It sounds mad and people can write want they want, but we
have a quiet group of lads here and the last week has been
the best we have had since I came here in terms of having a
laugh. It’s brought us all closer as group, and maybe
because we had Barcelona coming up we knew that we had to
work for each other. It’s all turned out perfectly.
"A club in turmoil? We’ve had a decent week. We were all
looking forward to this game and nothing could spoil that.
“This is how it happens for me. I don’t read what’s in the
papers, so it’s not been a problem for me. It’s all out of
my control what people write about me. All I could do was
work hard and try to get selected to play in a special
“I didn’t feel I owed a performance, except for the fact
it’s my boy’s tenth birthday, so that was for him. If anyone
scored, that celebration was part of the deal.”
Bellamy’s long-term Anfield career has been widely debated
since Sunday, but it’s clear the Welshman is unperturbed by
“I feel as if I’ve always been asked about my future at
every club I’ve been,” he said.
“It was the same at Blackburn last year when I was linked
everywhere, and when I was at Newcastle I was always linked
with someone else.
“I’m used to that, and when you’re at a big club like
Liverpool and you’re my sort of player, you’ll always hear
someone wants to get rid of you, so it’s not unusual for
Bellamy is determined the efforts in Spain don’t go to waste
during the return leg, but insists there’s no prospect of
Liverpool feeling the hard work is done.
He said: “There’s still a long way to go and Anfield will be
a completely different game. It was important we didn’t milk
it up at the end and let them see us celebrating as if it’s
all over, because we all know it isn’t. We were as subdued
as you can be when you win at the Nou Camp.”
Liverpool returned to Merseyside this morning. Momo
Sissoko’s shin injury is not considered too serious.
Alonso ready for Barca return
By Mark Buckingham - Sky Sports
Xabi Alonso admits Liverpool are relishing the second leg
of their tie with Barcelona after a stunning 2-1 victory
at Camp Nou.
The 2005 winners of the UEFA Champions League came from a
goal down to beat the holders in the first leg of their last
In-the-news duo Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise scored the
goals to put The Reds in a strong position to qualify for
Spanish midfielder Alonso was beaming at the result and
revealed confidence is high ahead of the return meeting at
Anfield in a fortnight.
"We are delighted with the result," Alonso told Sky Sports
"I think we have performed in the way we wanted to before
"We are really happy and are looking forward to the second
leg at Anfield.
"Of course, it is a massive success for us. It is always a
hard game here, so to win in a Champions League tie against
Barcelona in the Nou Camp is always great."
Liverpool's former Barcelona keeper Jose Reina praised his
team's resilience for coming back from Deco's early header.
Reina said: "It was brilliant. I think we have worked really
hard from the beginning, and also with the goal against us
in the first minutes, it was a little bit difficult.
"At the end, we are so happy because the result is great."
Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes refused to be
downhearted after his side’s shock Champions League defeat
at home to Liverpool, insisting they still have a "great
chance" of progressing through.
The reigning European champions suffered only their second
home loss to an English team after succumbing 2-1 to
Liverpool, who remain unbeaten in their four trips to the
Deco had given the hosts a flying start in the last-16 first
leg with an opening goal after 14 minutes – the first goal
Liverpool have ever conceded away to Barca – and the Catalan
giants then enjoyed a prolonged spell of pressure.
However, Frank Rijkaard’s men were unable to make the most
of their domination, and Liverpool hit back to snatch the
victory thanks to goals in either half from Craig Bellamy
and John Arne Riise.
Valdes may have felt he could have done better with
Bellamy’s header, which just sneaked over the line despite
the Barca goalkeeper getting his body behind it, but he
could do nothing about Riise’s winner.
Valdes had already done well to deny Dirk Kuyt when the
rebound fell to Bellamy, who promptly passed across the goal
where the unmarked Riise smashed a superb rising shot into
the roof of the net.
Valdes admits Bellamy’s goal just before half-time was the
real blow to their confidence.
“The first goal was hard to take, but I thought we would
come back and win,” he said.
"We are all very disappointed but we still have it all to
Barca now face an uphill battle to keep their title defence
alive, and while Valdes admits it will be tough, he sees no
reason why they cannot go to Anfield and turn the tie
“Liverpool made it difficult for us today and we made some
mistakes as well,” he added. “It will be hard to go through,
but we still have a great chance. Just as they won here, we
can win there.”
Barca defender Gianluca Zambrotta, who set Deco up for the
game’s opening goal with a pinpoint cross to the far post,
also believes his side are not out of it yet.
“We are disappointed but at the same time relaxed because we
still feel that we can get through to the next round,” he
“The dressing room was quiet after the game, but we will get
over it and come back stronger. We will now have to make
sure we learn from the mistakes we made today.”
Midfielder Andres Iniesta added: “Teams like Liverpool make
things very hard for us and sometimes we don’t take our
“We have to be optimistic.”
Rijkaard issues rallying cry
By Tom Adams - Sky Sports
Frank Rijkaard called on his under-fire Barcelona side to
pull together after their 2-1 UEFA Champions League defeat
Having lost to rivals Valencia in La Liga at the weekend,
the Catalans suffered a substantial blow in their bid to
retain the European Cup by going down to goals from Craig
Bellamy and John Arne Riise at Camp Nou.
Morale in the Barca camp was already low after reports of a
dressing room rift, and Rijkaard insists his squad must help
each other through a difficult period in the season if they
are to rescue the tie at Anfield.
"It wasn't our night," Rijkaard said. "The rhythm of the
game slowed down after we conceded the goal.
"After that moment, Liverpool had more strength and we
couldn't find a way to change this.
"It's a complicated situation and it will be difficult to
make the comeback but that's what (the situation) is.
"We'll just get ready for the game and be confident and have
trust in ourselves as well.
"We have to get through this suffering together and look
Cameroon star Samuel Eto'o missed the defeat due to fitness
concerns, and Rijkaard admits he is unsure whether his key
striker will be back for the second leg on Merseyside.
"I really don't know," Rijkaard said. "I hope so."
hails Reds response
By Tom Adams - Sky Sports
Rafa Benitez was delighted with his players' response to
a controversial week as they secured only the second victory
by an English team at Camp Nou.
Goals from Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise - reportedly
the chief protagonists in the club's ill-fated training camp
in Portgual - saw The Reds claim a superb 2-1 victory over
Barcelona in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League
last 16 tie.
Liverpool have been under intense scrutiny ever since
weekend reports of an alcohol-fuelled bust-up, but Benitez's
men produced a display full of fight in all the right places
and the Spaniard was delighted with their efforts.
"I said before in the press conference that the atmosphere
between the players was really good and you could see today
them all working very hard for the team, for the club and
for the supporters," Benitez told Sky Sports.
"For me I am really pleased with Bellamy and John scoring
these goals and also pleased for the team too.
"The players have done a very good job, we were training and
working very hard to prepare for this game and to play
Barcelona is not easy.
"I think that the team was very good at playing
Deco had put Barcelona ahead early on in Catalunya, but
Bellamy's header just before half-time gave The Reds hope as
his effort managed to sneak over the line after some poor
goalkeeping from Victor Valdes.
Benitez admitted that lady luck shined on his team in that
instance, but the Spaniard insisted his side fully deserved
the one-goal advantage they will seek to protect at Anfield
in two weeks.
"We started well but after we conceded a goal - we made a
mistake that was clear - we did not play well for the last
part of the first half," Benitez added.
"The second half we had better ideas, good movement and we
played good counter-attack and then the team were better.
"Sometimes you have luck [for the first goal], and we had
luck, but afterwards I felt we deserved the final score."
Barca still represent a clear danger despite Liverpool's
advantage, and Benitez was careful not to count his chickens
ahead of the second leg.
"At the end of the day we need to play another game, I don't
want to say that everything is done, we need to be careful
and think about the next game also."
Riise put Reds in the swing
Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise both scored as
Liverpool claimed a stunning 2-1 Champions League victory
over Barcelona at the Nou Camp.
Bellamy and Riise were allegedly the two players involved in
last week's training ground fracas in Portugal - and the
response from the pair will have delighted coach Rafael
Benitez and the mass of travelling Liverpool fans.
In the battle between the last two winners of the
competition, 2005 champions Liverpool tonight became only
the second English team to beat Barcelona at the Nou Camp.
The only previous side to win here was the 1975-76 Liverpool
team, which downed Barca 1-0 in the UEFA Cup semi-finals
before going on to win the final.
Liverpool, who had not lost in three previous visits to the
Nou Camp, made a confident start, and they should possibly
have taken the lead after creating the first incisive move
of the match in the fourth minute.
However, Riise, having broken the offside trap to latch onto
Steven Gerrard's pass, could not find Bellamy in the middle,
when a decent pass would surely have led to the Welshman
putting Liverpool ahead.
After a quiet start, the home side and their fans were
finally woken up when Ronaldinho went sprawling in the box,
only for the referee to wave play on.
Deco then tried his luck before Juliano Belletti blazed high
and wide, before Barca took the lead in the 14th minute when
Gianluca Zambrotta crossed to the far post where the
diminutive Deco headed into the corner of the net.
Saviola had a chance to make it 2-0 just minutes later after
skipping past Jamie Carragher, but the Argentinian's
left-footed shot went wide.
Barca were rampant at this stage, and Reina was forced to
come out and deny Deco following a neat pass from Lionel
With Rafael Benitez's side clearly shell-shocked, Barca
continued to push forward and only some desperate Liverpool
defending kept the Spanish champions from increasing their
Liverpool managed to regroup - and they had a chance to draw
level seven minutes before the break after earning a
free-kick out wide on the left. However, the unmarked
Bellamy could only head Gerrard's cross into the
Bellamy made amends for that miss in the 43rd minute though
as Liverpool drew level.
Steve Finnan dinked a ball into the box and Bellamy powered
in a header which Victor Valdes was unable to keep hold of,
with Dirk Kuyt pouncing to slot the ball home.
Bellamy's header had already crossed the line before Valdes
pushed it back out though, and the striker celebrated his
goal by imitating a golf-swing.
Barca coach Frank Rijkaard then opted to make a change at
the start of the second half, with Thiago Motta replaced by
Spain international Andres Iniesta, much to the delight of
the home fans.
But even with the highly-rated Iniesta on the pitch, Barca
were still struggling to re-establish their early dominance
and Rijkaard made his second switch in the 65th minute,
sending on Ludovic Giuly for Xavi Hernandez.
Liverpool were gifted a chance to take the lead when Valdes
picked up a back-pass from Giuly.
Gerrard saw his shot saved by the feet of Valdes, but
Liverpool really should have netted when the ball came back
into the box, with Kuyt unable to head home from just three
That let-off seemed to spark Barca into life briefly and
they fashioned their best chance of the second half soon
Saviola created some space for a shot inside the Liverpool
penalty area, but he was denied by Reina. The rebound fell
for Messi - but he saw his shot deflected over.
Liverpool scored their second goal in the 74th minute, after
Gerrard picked out Kuyt with a brilliant pass.
Although the Dutchman was denied by Reina, Bellamy played
the loose ball across goal for the unmarked Riise to blast
right-footed into the roof of the net.
With their title defence beginning to slip away, Barca piled
forward after that in search of an equaliser, but poor
control from Saviola saw one decent chance go begging.
With five minutes to go Reina flapped at a cross to leave
Liverpool fans with their hearts in their mouths, but he was
saved by his covering defence.
A similar misjudgement from Reina minutes later almost cost
his side a goal though, and he will have been hugely
relieved to see Deco's curling free-kick hit his far post
and rebound away to safety.
That was the closest Barca would come to an equaliser
however, and they now face an uphill battle in the second
leg at Anfield.