It is nearly a month since Bellamy kicked a football in anger, a month in which his raging dispute with Graeme Souness has forced him from the banks of the Tyne to the Clyde. Last night in front of a crowd a fraction of the size of what he can expect at Parkhead, Bellamy, employed in the centre-forward role that Souness refused him, scored twice to give another son of Cardiff, John Toshack, an emphatic relaunch of his career as Wales manager.
Souness, who might have given a wry smile to have seen Bellamy brutally upended by a midfielder called Attila (Dragoner), would no doubt have pointed out that his turbulent striker would not have scored at all but for the ineptitude of the Hungarian keeper, Gabor Kiraly, who allowed the first goal to squirm under his body and the second to trickle over the line.
At half-time the Millennium Stadium had been entertained by Dewi the Dragon, Welsh football's new mascot, who failed to get a single furry claw to a series of penalties propelled gently in his direction by a group of children aged eight to 10. The Crystal Palace keeper scarcely managed any better with an extravagantly-taken 35-yard free-kick from Bellamy that he merely dived over. The move that led to the Welsh second, a neat one-two with Simon Davies, was done with panache but the shot was a feeble one which still went in. Bellamy might have had a hat-trick when rounding Kiraly but, from a tight angle, he shot rather than squaring the ball to Davies for a simple tap-in. Under the circumstances, the selfishness was understandable.
"A lot of people have made comments about me recently who have never even met me, who don't know what kind of person I am," Bellamy said. "The only way I can answer them is on a football pitch. I have had a tough couple of weeks but that's football, you expect ups and downs but I seem to get more downs than most." When told by a television interviewer that Danny Gabbidon rather than he had been voted man of the match, Bellamy joked that he was shocked but somehow you knew he was genuinely amazed.
For Toshack this was a considerably better beginning than his last tilt at the job 11 years ago which ended with a shambolic 3-1 defeat by Norway. Then, through choice, he had adopted a bizarre 3-3-3-1 formation and employed Ian Rush as a midfielder. Now Toshack was forced to use five defenders when he had planned all week for four.
So short of footballers was Toshack that he was unable to find sufficient substitutes to fill the bench and a flavour of Welsh inexperience came when Carl Fletcher and Sam Ricketts tackled each other.
However, once they settled down, Toshack's remodelled side performed with great competence, which was all that could be expected, and even before Bellamy's dramatic intervention they might have taken the lead through Carl Robinson. The Sunderland midfielder was surprised to receive a deflected pass from Robert Earnshaw in front of goal and perhaps because of this stumbled slightly over the shot but still managed to drive it on to the foot of the post.
WALES (5-3-2): Coyne (Burnley); Edwards (Wolves), Gabbidon (Cardiff), Page (Cardiff), Partridge (Motherwell), Ricketts (Swansea); Davies (Tottenham), Robinson (Sunderland), Fletcher (West Ham); Earnshaw (West Brom), Bellamy (Celtic). Substitutes used: Weston (Cardiff) for Edwards, 50; G Roberts (Tranmere) for Earnshaw, 75; S Roberts (Wrexham) for Robinson, 90; Collins (Sunderland) for Partridge, 65.
HUNGARY (4-4-2): Kiraly (Crystal Palace); Bodmar (Roda), Gyepes (Ferencvaros), Dragoner (Guimares), Juhasz (MTK Budapest); Korsos (Rapid Vienna), Lipcesi (Ferencvaros), Hajnal (St Truiden), Huszti (Ferencvaros); Torghelle (Crystal Palace), Gera (West Bromwich). Substitutes used: Rosa (Ferencvaros) for Korsos, 65; Leandro (Ferencvaros) for Hajnal, 58; Vincze (Gyori) for Torghelle 80, Kovacs (Viking) for Lipcsei 68.
Referee: C Richmond (Scotland).Reuse content