Craig Bellamy won't turn his back on Wales
CRAIG Bellamy insists he’ll never turn his back on Wales following his surprise return to the international fold.
The Cardiff City striker hasn’t played for his country since last August when he won his 70th cap in a friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina, but he won’t be following the likes of Ryan Giggs in calling time on his tenure as an international.
The former Manchester City and West Ham United striker also believes he owes it to his country to try to inspire his young teammates, as the previous generation did for him.
“It’s good to be back and I’m looking forward to the game,” he said ahead of tomorrow's friendly against Austria in Swansea.
"It’s always a privilege to represent your country. It’s been the biggest honour of my career and always something I look forward to whether it’s a qualifier or a friendly.
“I’ve always tried to stay quiet on the issue (of his future); I’m a firm believer you don’t retire though. What happens if you do retire and then a few months later you want to come back? It’s best to keep quiet and see where your frame of mind is.
“First of all you have to be fit and I am and it’s another game for me, the added bonus is it is for Wales. Being fit and happy is a good thing whatever line of work you’re in, you have to enjoy what you’re doing and this is just another opportunity for me to represent my country which is the hugest honour.
“It’s a drug, it’s why I’m here, this is my national team and I don’t look to the future any more in our game.
“Your next game could be your last. I know I’ve got Austria and then Huddersfield. I don’t know who I’ve got after that. That’s how I work.
“As a player, your next game is your biggest game, as long as I’m fit and I’ve got something to offer I’ll be here. I know I still have a lot to offer this team and if that wasn’t the case I certainly wouldn’t be here as I wouldn’t want to hinder someone else’s progression.
“Club teams might look at it and say that retiring from international football might prolong your career but to what or when? You don’t know. Your next game could be your last.”
Bellamy believes the performances in his absence haven’t been good enough and feels only by playing winning football can Wales get back to the days of bumper crowds at the Millennium Stadium.
“I don’t think there is such a thing as ‘what if.’ If you don’t qualify it’s because you’re not good enough,” he said.
“The reason we haven’t qualified is because we haven’t been good enough and that’s the same for this campaign.
“In terms of crowd numbers we have to be successful. If we can get the national team to the level these players are capable of, to the glory days when I started off and we were getting 70,000 sell-outs at the Millennium Stadium that would be ideal.
“Can we get there again? I’m not quite sure but because of the players I see I feel we can get there.”
Crystal Palace goalkeeper Lewis Price has withdrawn from the Wales squad through injury. He will be replaced by Jason Brown, currently without a club.