22.05.2014 19:20 h

Football: Bellamy announces retirement

Former Manchester City and Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy announced his retirement on Thursday.

Bellamy, who had been playing for his hometown club Cardiff City for the last two seasons, decided to hang up his boots after coming to the conclusion that his body "couldn't take it any more".

The 34-year-old Wales international couldn't stop Cardiff being relegated to the Championship and that was the signal to call a halt to a successful 17-year career which also included spells at Celtic, Newcastle United, West Ham United, Norwich City, Blackburn Rovers and Coventry City.

Bellamy fulfilled his childhood dream of helping Cardiff win promotion to the Premier League in 2013, ending the south Wales club's 51-year absence from the top-flight.

But he had been contemplating retirement for several seasons and finally felt the strain on his aching limbs was too great to continue.

In an interview given to Wales Online he said: "It's been on my mind to finish playing for the last couple of years, but this time I've had to make a decision. I've had to listen to my body.

"I guess over the years I've become accustomed to the pain from various injuries, but for the last three to four years I've been on anti-inflammatories every day.

"I'm not sure my body will think that's a wise thing in due course, but it kept me playing for that period.

"However, the time has come to stand aside and say enough. My body can't take any more.

"When Cardiff got promoted, it was the sense of achievement with my home-town club that meant most to me, rather than being able to play another season in the Premier League.

"But I spoke to Malky Mackay (the manager at the time) and he talked me around for one last challenge. I wasn't sure I could offer too much."

Bellamy, who won 78 caps for Wales, said he has received offers to continue playing from clubs in England and the Unites States, but he is now planning on pursuing a coaching career.

"I do have lots of business activities to keep me busy and I'm taking my full coaching badges," he said.

"I just need to do the Pro-Licence which will prepare me properly for management."

Bellamy has been regarded as a controversial character after a series of ugly incidents, including an infamous bust-up that saw him attack Liverpool team-mate John Arne Riise with a golf club after a row over karaoke during a trip to Portugal in 2007.

But Bellamy, who followed that incident by celebrating a goal against Barcelona with an imaginary golf swing, claims the more mature figure the fans saw at the end of his playing days was a truer reflection of his personality.

"I've been an angry young man at times. So much of my career was affected by injuries. Not just the well-documented surgery, but the hamstring pulls and other things," he said.

"Injuries hit me hard and they always seemed to come at key times. But I think that anger I've displayed has been channelled into making me a better player. It gave me determination to get through those many injury problems.

"In the last couple of years I've been more proud, able to step back, enjoy my accomplishments. Why? Because my mind was in a good place."

Bellamy retires with 169 career goals, League Cup and Community Shield medals won at Liverpool and a Scottish Cup from his time at Celtic.