Gareth Bale a factor in decision to extend Wales career admits Craig Bellamy

The Cardiff striker will not be ending his international career just yet

Craig Bellamy admits the chance to continue playing alongside Gareth Bale was a factor in his decision to prolong his international career.

The Cardiff striker has used his call-up to Chris Coleman's squad to face Austria on Wednesday to make it clear he has no intention of bringing down the curtain on a Wales career that has seen him win 70 caps to date.

There had been speculation Bellamy may not feature for the Dragons again after he missed Wales' first four World Cup qualifiers through injury and he last played for his country in the 2-0 defeat against Bosnia-Herzegovina in August.

But the former Celtic, Newcastle and Manchester City forward revealed the chance to link up with Tottenham winger Bale was a major motivation behind his desire to continue pulling on the red shirt.

Of wing wonder Bale, whose abilities are again being lauded after his wonderful goals against Norwich and West Brom, Bellamy said: "For him to be Welsh makes me feel immensely proud.

"He is Welsh, no-one else can have him, he is from our country and he is someone we should be proud of and he makes me feel very proud when I watch him play and I am proud to play alongside him.

"At this moment he is certainly one of the world's best players, no two ways about it."

He added: "We have Gareth, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen, players who can be the heart and soul of our team for a number of years, so I felt there was a responsibility on myself to show my pride and turn up.

"I had players like Gary Speed who led the way for me.

"I watched him turn up and saw his pride in representing his country. That was an example for me and I want to do the same and I have tried to the same."

Doubts over Bellamy's Wales future were initially raised when he hinted he was considering quitting the national squad in the wake of Speed's death.

But the addictive nature of representing his country was too much to resist now he has overcome his injury and personal issues.

"I am a firm believer you don't retire," he said. "If I had felt like that a few months ago and I had retired, what would have happened if I had then wanted to come back?

"It is best to keep quiet and see where you are in your mind.

"First and foremost you need to be fit and I am. I am enjoying my football and it's another game for me and it is an added bonus that it involves playing for my country.

"I have to take it as it comes, if I feel as I do now then it should not be a problem.

"I am enjoying my football at the moment and how everything is going and it's another chance to represent my country.

"There is no bigger honour, it's a drug and it's why I am here. It's my national team."

PA

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