The late Sir Bobby Robson, who at one time managed Craig Bellamy at Newcastle, later said of him: "A great player wrapped round an unusual and volatile character.” There's no doubt that subsequent history supports Robson's judgement of Bellamy.

On the downside there have been Craig's very public run-ins with managers, players and fans. On the plus side it would not be far off the mark to suggest that on the field of play Bellamy has been, throughout his playing career, one of the most potent attackers in the Premiership.

Such a view is supported by the number of clubs who have always sought his signature, and continue to do so, when he becomes available on the transfer market.

Earlier this week, prior to Bellamy signing on loan to Cardiff, Harry Redknapp, the Spurs manager, expressed his view that for Bellamy to play for a Championship team would be to waste his talent. Clearly therefore Redknapp still sees Bellamy as a top drawer player.

In addition to the playing side, there is his less public and lesser well-known off field activities - notably the setting up in 2008 of The Craig Bellamy Foundation in Sierra Leone (one of the poorest nations in the world).

Bellamy has reportedly invested huge sums of his own money in this venture. Some four years ago years ago Bellamy ignored the warnings of his then employers at Liverpool and travelled to Freetown on a friend's recommendation.

Now some 1,600 boys aged between 11 and 14 play or train on a daily basis in a league supported by Bellamy's foundation.

Unlike some African equivalents this project, also supported by Unicef, is not primarily about producing footballers for European clubs.

It aims, instead, to ensure that children brought up in the aftermath of a savage civil war, in a country boasting the world's highest youth mortality rate, receive a proper education, become involved in their communities and absorb the foundation's insistent messages on sexual health and the perils of HIV/Aids.

Since the league's inception, truancy rates have plummeted. While boys – some of whose elder brothers served as child soldiers – are barred from matches if they skip school, they are also not permitted on the pitch unless they have helped in community projects such as repairing wells and clearing vegetation likely to attract mosquitos.

Leagues for girls and amputees are also being established. In all that he does Craig Bellamy is a man who does nothing by halves. He is a man of passion and spirit. Such a combination, if harnessed correctly, will be of huge benefit for the Bluebirds fortunes

Bringing Craig Bellamy to the club has now given a most unexpected, surprising, and mouthwatering and totally new dimension to the season.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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#Craig Bellamy
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