Tan Sri Vincent Tan has placed on record his respect and admiration for Craig Bellamy following the summer decision to hang up his boots.
In an illustrious playing career spanning over seventeen years, we can all take great pride in the fact that Craig Bellamy, a local attacking talent had chosen to list Cardiff City among his professional clubs; not once, but in two separate spells in South Wales.
Many will recall Craig’s first high profile homecoming in the summer of 2010, joining on loan from Manchester City, a club we very much thank for their cooperation in making the move a reality. Our gratitude at that time was also deserved by Craig himself; such was his desire to come home, dropping to play a year in the Championship when his talent was rightly ranked alongside the best attacking players in the Premier League.
Despite coming close that year and reaching the Play-off semi-finals, our squad and good fortune unfortunately fell just short of seeing the job through. Craig’s injury, early in the first leg at Reading added to a list of players also out of contention at that time. In my opinion his forced absence for the second leg was crucial.
Fate would then see us meet again the following year, though this time as opponents as Cardiff City fought so valiantly against Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in the League Cup Final. On a day of many heroes, Craig’s character once again shone through in the way he carried himself, consoling our players after the heartbreak of the penalty shoot-out before celebrating with his own team.
That summer we were honoured to see Craig make the permanent move to Cardiff City, once again with the desire to play a part in winning top flight promotion for the first time in over fifty years.
Individual player impact is somewhat subjective when measuring the success of a team, but when looking back at our Championship winning season I believe Craig’s professional application, influence and desire was a major factor in earning promotion to the Premier League for the first time in generations.
The scenes that followed will live with us all for a very long time, as will Craig’s words when speaking on what this meant as a proud Cardiff born son, summing up what this achievement meant to so many good people in South Wales as football history was made.
This summer, after a year with his local club in the Premier League, Craig made the decision to retire from playing, leaving Cardiff City with the utmost respect from all associated with the club. I would personally like to wish him every success as he takes his next steps forward in life, including his admirable work in Sierra Leone with his foundation, an honourable legacy indeed.
Craig’s professional playing days may be over, but I’m sure we’ll continue be see great things from him in the years ahead. With God’s blessing his options and limitations are without bounds.