Bellamy in rush to emulate idol

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The Independent Football

The Wales striker Craig Bellamy has hailed his hero Ian Rush for the part he played in his £6.5m "dream move" to Liverpool.

Bellamy, who recently turned 27 and has scored nine goals in 35 games for his country, says Rush is his idol and he aims to live up to the faith shown in him by Liverpool and Wales' record goalscorer.

Bellamy, who scored on his Liverpool debut yesterday in a 2-0 friendly win at Wrexham, left Newcastle 18 months ago in acrimonious circumstances after falling out with then manager Graeme Souness.

The striker insists he must thank Rush for his move from Blackburn. Bellamy said: "I used to hound Rushie all the time when I was 18 and 19 and around the Welsh squad.

"Basically I was telling him he was my hero, and he used to say 'yeah, cheers for that'. I was just a kid at the time, but he had a big part in me joining Liverpool. He has said nice things about me in his newspaper columns - they came at the right time. I appreciate that. He was my hero and I can't thank him enough.

"I am following some great Welsh strikers at Liverpool, my Wales manager John Toshack and Rushie. Hopefully, if I can get anywhere near the status they both had at Anfield, then I will be more than happy. Both have played a crucial part in my career."

Bellamy paid tribute to another Welshman, his former international manager Mark Hughes, for the part he played in his recovery after his split from Newcastle. Bellamy said: "I am grateful to Mark Hughes and Blackburn. When I left Newcastle, I had to make sure I went to the right club.

"I knew Mark, and the coaches Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki from their time running Wales. They were people I trusted and they knew the situation I had just come from.

"Everyone at Blackburn could not do enough for me, and disappointed as I am to be leaving, it would only have been for Liverpool. They understood that."

Bellamy cannot wait to get started at Anfield. He said: "This is a special honour, and anyone who has supported a club and then gets the chance to play for them knows it is a surreal situation. I'm nervous. I want to be a big hit and be remembered for doing really well as a player.

"It's one thing coming to a club like Liverpool but another to be remembered as a really good player.

"A few people would question me after having five knee operations but the belief that this day would come has been my inspiration. I have spent weeks doing rehab on my own after everyone has gone home."

Bellamy acknowledges that he will struggle to shake off his bad-boy image. He added: "I am always going to be labelled as a player with baggage, it's one of those things. I can say, 'look, I'm a really nice guy' but people will say what they want to say.

"All I can do is try as hard as I can to improve, the only thing I care about is to try to make my team better and how I work around the training ground. What I am missing is trophies and that is what I aim to put right here. Otherwise it will all be a bit of a failure."