How Kevin Muscat curtailed Craig Bellamy’s Norwich City career
- Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers
Norwich City fans who have fond memories of Craig Bellamy in yellow and green will also share a uniform opinion of Kevin Muscat.
The Australian defender was of little consequence to fans outside Wolverhampton – until his infamous tackling claimed one of your own.
Bellamy was in that very position when City visited Molineux in December 1998. Muscat produced a horror tackle that saw Norwich manager Bruce Rioch apoplectic, led Iwan Roberts to get retribution on the defender in a future fixture and for Bellamy, quite possibly cost him the rest of his City career.
'Like a few other victims before and after me, I came up against Kevin Muscat and suffered the consequences,' wrote Bellamy.
'He was the real McCoy. Once you'd run into him, other players didn't hold the same fear. He'd compiled a long, long rap sheet by the time he finished.
'People like Muscat are clever. They know in a (certain) situation they can get away with anything because the ref is scared.
'Muscat told me I was going to get it and he was good to his word. As we came together, his foot went over the ball and he stamped on my knee. I knew I was in trouble.
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'After the game Wolves players Carl Robinson and Keith Curle came to see me. Muscat didn't. When someone seems to get in trouble as regularly as he has, it makes you a breed apart. If he is a man who has any kind of self-knowledge, the consequences of what he's done will hit him one day.
'I was very lucky – but it was still the most painful recuperation from an injury I've ever had. It was my first real injury and I lost a lot of muscle in my leg. I was rushed back. I did OK but my knee didn't feel right. I was limping around…I was an accident waiting to happen.'
Once the season ended, Bellamy hoped the summer would see his fitness issues resolved – but it didn't work out like that and an awkward tackle during a pre-season friendly at Southend ruled Bellamy out for almost all of the new season. The following summer he was sold.
'I heard a click in my knee, the one I had experienced problems with after Muscat's tackle, and I wonder now whether if the muscle had been properly built up around it, I might have avoided the injury at Southend.
'I'll never know.'
• Craig Bellamy GoodFella, Trinity Mirror Sport Media £18.99. Hardback and ebook available. Craig Bellamy is donating all his proceeds to the Craig Bellamy Foundation.