Desire for Wales success speeds Bellamy's recovery

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The Independent Football

Craig Bellamy cited his desire to play for Wales and improve their world status as his reason for being here against the odds to face Cyprus today.

The Wales captain will lead his country 10 days after a groin operation, fighting the cause that has defeated Ryan Giggs, Ian Rush, Mark Hughes and every Welsh player since the World Cup finals of 1958.

He knows Wales cannot realistically qualify for next summer's Euro 2008 finals, but his determination to contribute to the future shone through as he explain-ed his motives. Bellamy is here with West Ham's blessing even though the Londoners know they need their £7.5m striker back on song for the Premier League in a week's time.

For Bellamy, it is the opportunity to edge nearer his 50th cap – he has 47 – and assist the Welsh ambition of reaching the finals of a major competition. "We all want to do as well as we can – results are so important to a nation like us," he said.

"We have not had the success of other nations, so good results do mean a lot to us. The desire to represent Wales and compete at the highest level in a championship finals is with us all. So every game is important for us, and especially for me. It is coming up to my 50th cap, I just want to get there.

"My whole aim is to get to those finals. What it would do for us as a nation and football in our country would be priceless. It would mean so much to everyone, football would be improved everywhere. That is our aim and that is my main aim."

Bellamy has trained normally since arriving here, and said: "I'm feeling really good and not surprised by the speed of the recovery. I was aiming to be back quickly and the doctor in Germany who did the operation gave me a schedule, and this match fits perfectly.

"A lot of German players have had this operation and recovered in similar times. It just seems to be a bit of thing for us at the moment, with me and Michael Owen having the operation. This recovery rate is common in Germany, and I am not surprised at all. The doctor told me I could play again in eight to 10 days, so I knew that this Wales match in Cyprus was just right for me.

"West Ham looked at it and felt it was better for me to be with Wales to train with a full squad, have some competitive games and be back in good shape for the home game with Sunderland next weekend."