Craig Bellamy was one of the stars of the Sir Bobby Robson team of the early 2000s.
The £6m signing in summer 2001, along with Laurent Robert’s £10m arrival from PSG, helped transform Newcastle United from a team going nowhere in mid-table, to one that then finished fourth, third and fifth, as well as bringing us those great Champions League nights.
Whether Sir Bobby should have seen his Newcastle managerial career ended is one thing…but to replace him with Graeme Souness was just staggering.
It was claimed that Freddy Shepherd and John Hall brought him in to pull the likes of Craig Bellamy and others into line, instead we just got a big fat disaster as Souness dismantled Sir Bobby’s team. Bringing in disastrous big money replacements in Owen, Boumsong and Luque.
Nobody could claim Bellamy wasn’t a pain at times but he was a key part of the team and exciting to watch.
However, Souness insisted on taking him out of the role where he had been so successful in and around Alan Shearer, instead moving him out to the wing.
Most of you will recall, that his eventual departure was brought about after a game at Arsenal.
Craig Bellamy had travelled to the match but wasn’t named in the matchday squad.
After the game the striker was interviewed by Geoff Shreeves of Sky Sports after the match and told him he had missed the game through injury.
This was then contradicted afterwards by Newcastle/Souness and the story then became that Bellamy had refused to play.
However, interviewed by Geoff Shreeves once again on Wednesday night on Sky Sports, Craig Bellamy gave a very different version of what happened.
The former NUFC player says he was left out of the squad by Souness that day at Arsenal and indicates that there was an agreement he would say a minor was responsible for his absence, rather than make it into a big story about a split/trouble in the camp.
Craig Bellamy claiming it was all a set up…
Craig Bellamy speaking to Geoff Shreeves of Sky Sports:
“I had a disagreement with Graeme Souness when I was at Newcastle because I didn’t want to play on the wing.
“I went in one day, saw the paper, and it said they had listened to offers for me.
“So then I went out to training.
“Dean Saunders was taking it then. I didn’t particularly like talking to him anyway but at the same time I was like ‘where’s the manager? I want to speak to the manager’.
“The manager wasn’t there and so I trained…and my head wasn’t in the right place.
“So I thought, I’d better got off the pitch because I felt I was letting everyone down out there.
“As I have walked off I told the coach that my hamstring was tight, because I knew I needed to get off the pitch, I was letting everyone down as my head wasn’t in the right place.
“Then Graeme Souness, we go and see the chairman, the late Freddy Shepherd.
“We had it out and he accused me of walking off the pitch…I wasn’t injured but I gave him the reasons why.”
“Then the game we all remember against Arsenal, I was fit to play and I had trained the next day, it wasn’t a problem. Travelled to Arsenal but I wasn’t in the squad.
“Geoff was prepped well before it, knew before I knew, like everybody else at Sky Sports.
“I was set up.
“There was no questions about what happened at Arsenal, the score or anything like that, the story turned into that I faked injury and didn’t want to play.”