No divided loyalties for Craig Bellamy ahead of Norwich City Premier League return

A youthful Craig Bellamy in his Norwich City days against Swansea. Picture: Keith Whitmore/Archant

A youthful Craig Bellamy in his Norwich City days against Swansea. Picture: Keith Whitmore/Archant - Credit: Archant

Cardiff's weekend Premier League trip to Norwich City evokes plenty of happy memories for Craig Bellamy – but the former Canaries' trainee will harbour no divided loyalties at Carrow Road.

Bellamy is forever indebted to the grounding he earned in Norfolk after being talent spotted as an 11-year-old. The Welsh striker was rested for the Bluebirds' recent top flight defeat at Chelsea, but is expected to spearhead Malky Mackay's attack back on familiar territory. The 34-year-old made 91 senior appearances after his teenage breakthrough before sealing a £6.5m move to Coventry in 2000.

'I loved Norwich and will always be grateful to them for everything they did for me, everything they taught me and the patience they showed,' he said. 'I was schooled right in a terrific club and had terrific professionals around me. I would probably not have had such a good career if it had not been for that experience with Norwich.

'The club had been plunged into a financial crisis as they tried to adapt to no longer being in the Premier League and I would not have developed into the player I became if I had been stuck in the reserves at a club where it was impossible for a lad to force his way into the first team.'

Bellamy, speaking in his book 'Goodfella' published earlier this year, admitted the reaction of the Norwich fans at the time made his transition to the senior ranks a lot easier.

'The crowd took to me straightaway, this little lad playing in a kit that was three sizes too big for me,' he said. 'I felt for the Norwich fans that their club was at such a low ebb, but it became more and more obvious the circumstances at Norwich were providing me with a golden opportunity. On my debut, at (Crystal) Palace, I touched the ball twice and we lost 2-0. I was probably responsible for plenty of goals Norwich conceded, many of which originated from the fact that I didn't track the opposition runners well enough.

'The reality was I played more games than my ability deserved. I found it difficult at times because I was fatigued playing twice a week. That meant my performances were inconsistent. I was still maturing, still growing, but I wasn't rested because we had a lack of players.'

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