New Wales manager Craig Bellamy reveals why he jumped at ‘rare’ opportunity

The former Wales captain was appointed after impressing the Welsh FA

Chris Wilson
Wednesday 10 July 2024 12:55
Bellamy was most recently assistant manager to Vincent Kompany at Burnley
Bellamy was most recently assistant manager to Vincent Kompany at Burnley (Getty Images)

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Craig Bellamy has revealed that the opportunity to manage Wales was too rare an opportunity to turn down as he spoke for the first time since being appointed.

The former Manchester City, Liverpool and Newcastle forward was named as the new Wales manager earlier this week, replacing Rob Page, who was sacked after a poor run of results ended in Wales failing to qualify for Euro 2024.

Bellamy, who could have remained at Burnley as an assistant to Scott Parker, made 78 appearances for his country between 1998 and 2013, and is a former Wales captain.

The 44-year-old was unveiled by the Welsh FA’s Technical Director David Adams before opening up on how much the role means to him.

Bellamy explained: “Timing in football, you don’t always get that luxury. The last two or three months I was happy but I needed more. It became clear I needed to search for a number one spot.

“Wales has always been really important to me. The chance to lead your national team is rare. It just really became clear to me that if there was an opportunity to do this, this was the one I wanted.

“When I spoke to Dave and was in the process, the more excited I got. I’m so happy to be doing this.”

Craig Bellamy (left) gained coaching experience alongside Vincent Kompany at Burnley
Craig Bellamy (left) gained coaching experience alongside Vincent Kompany at Burnley (PA Wire)

Bellamy went into detail on his footballing philosophy, emphasising “hard work” and “respect for the shirt”.

“Can you leave that shirt in a better place than when you found it? Those are huge parts to me,” the former Wales captain outlined.

“Playing-wise, I do like front-foot football. I like pressing. The team comes first so we’re difficult to break through. We build from the back. We commit.

“Everything we do is to score goals. I know you guys might want to talk about formations, but I think you might need to look away from that. We don’t play formations, we play shapes. It’s 2-v-1s, looking to create those areas in every part of the football pitch.”

Bellamy then explained his personal philosophy, mentioning that “losing and not being able to play well or giving your all during that period, I find that difficult”.

“I just had two seasons, the first winning nearly every week, then going to the Premier League and losing most weeks,” he added.

Craig Bellamy was capped 78 times by Wales
Craig Bellamy was capped 78 times by Wales (PA Archive)

“I’ve seen the level and how much you learn. You learn more when you’re losing. I want to dominate in every aspect. Winning football matches. This is me personally. In order to qualify for tournaments, the detail you have to go into, the work starts now.”

Referencing how he has changed since a 2019 investigation into bullying behaviour at Cardiff City, Bellamy replied: “I put myself under more scrutiny than anyone. I’m determined to be the best person I can. Every mistake I’ve made I admit it.”

He finished by praising Wales fans, saying that they have previously “played a huge part” in helping Wales to qualify for tournaments.

“During that period when your backs are against the wall, that’s when you know whether you’ve got a crowd. I’ve always felt that the Red Wall when they’ve seen those moments, they’ve got louder.”

Bellamy’s first game in charge will be against Euro 2024 quarter-finalists Turkey in the Nations League on 6 September.

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