Bellamy joined Cardiff on loan and then permanently to fulfil a dream of playing for them, and the narrative he wanted arrived as City were promoted to the Premier League. And, even though he was unable to stop them going straight back down in what has turned out to be his last season, he retires with satisfaction. 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. I had performed at that level for 12 years anyway, the goal of getting Cardiff up there meant more to me than actually playing there again myself. “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 says there have been offers from both England and America, but is now planning on pursuing a coaching career. The 78-cap Wales international, who started out with Norwich in 1997, added: “I do have lots of business activities to keep me busy and I’m taking my full coaching badges. I’ve got A, B and C, I just need to do the Pro-Licence which will prepare me properly for management.” Bellamy has not always been regarded as the friendliest of characters during a career that also took in Coventry, Newcastle, Celtic, Blackburn, West Ham, Manchester City and two spells with Liverpool, but he claims the man the fans saw at the end of his time 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. Injuries hit me hard and they always seemed to come at key times. Back then I didn’t understand my body as well as I began to do towards the end of my career,” he said. “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. “I was always far more at ease with myself as a player during the last couple of years with Cardiff. “If truth be known, I got little enjoyment for large parts of my career. In hindsight, I needed to reflect more, be proud of what I did. Instead, I set myself unrealistic targets at times. “But 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, a League Cup and Community Shield won at Liverpool and a Scottish Cup from his time at Celtic. Craig Bellamy has announced his retirement from football aged 34. The well-travelled Cardiff striker said on Thursday that his body “couldn’t take it any more”. Bellamy’s decision brings to an end a 17-year senior career, concluded with a spell at his home-town club. Press Association
Second-half tries from Jonny Sexton and Andrew Trimble helped Ireland to a first 29-17 Test victory in Argentina on Saturday night. However, they charged into the second half with Schmidt’s words echoing their ears, and three minutes after the restart Sexton rounded off a super team move to bag his side’s second try. The move stemmed from a fine lineout steal from debutant Robbie Diack, and after a powerful break from Jordi Murphy, Sexton linked up splendidly with Marshall to score an unconverted try on the right. And just short of the hour mark, Ireland put the result beyond any doubt when Trimble intercepted Sanchez’s looping pass on halfway and had the easiest of tasks to canter home unopposed for a third Irish try. Sexton slotted the conversion but he soon limped off with a leg injury, while his replacement Ian Madigan slotted two late penalties to gloss the victory as Tomas De La Vega crossed for a late Argentinian consolation. After a lively opening 10 minutes at Resistencia, the tourists made the first impact on the scoreboard when Gabriel Ascarate was penalised for breaking the offside line, and Sexton made no mistake from the left-hand side. From the restart Ireland were guilty of handing easy field position to their hosts when Andrew Trimble knocked on, but Greg Feek would have been thrilled to see his scrum demolish the Argentinians on their ball and the resultant penalty released the pressure. Ireland would continue to have the upper hand at the scrum for the remainder of the first half, while a solid lineout marshalled expertly by Paul O’Connell in this 100th Test match also gave the Six Nations champions a great attacking platform. Eight minutes after he gave his side the lead, Sexton doubled that advantage to 6-0 when the Ulster duo of Darren Cave and Like Marshall linked up well for a line-break in midfield and the scrambling Argentinian defence was forced into the concession of a penalty. But Ireland did not have it all their own way in the first half, and after Santiagio Cordero went close to crossing in the right corner, Nicolas Sanchez got them on the board with a well-struck penalty after 27 minutes to leave it 6-3. The Argentinian challenge was dented when No 8 Benjamin Macone was sin-binned in the 29th minute when he took Trimble out in the air, but despite their numerical inferiority, the home side stunned Ireland when Sanchez’s smart break sent Manuel Montero clear to score in the corner. Sanchez converted to give Argentina a 10-6 lead, but Ireland hit back immediately when O’Connell got the maul rolling five metres from the line and Henry dotted down. Sexton missed the tricky conversion from the left, but Ireland would have been happy to escape the half by leading 11-10. Chris Henry also crossed in the opening period for Ireland, but a leg injury to Sexton 16 minutes from time will concern coach Joe Schmidt ahead of next weekend’s second Test at Tucuman. That aside, though, it was a night to enjoy for the Irish. Press Association
The City Till We Die group, whose campaign to prevent owner Assem Allam from changing the club’s name from Hull City to Hull Tigers was rewarded when the Football Association rejected his application two months ago, spoke out after the development on Friday. Hull’s new crest features the traditional tiger’s head and ‘1904’, the year the club was formed, but does not include the words ‘Hull City AFC’ or ‘The Tigers’. Hull fans have renewed their calls for consultation after the Tigers unveiled a new crest which does not include the club’s name. Press Association Now the fans’ group has called for a promise to consult supporters over the proposed re-branding to be honoured. A spokesman for City Till We Die told Press Association Sport: “We are very disappointed that the promised fan consultation hasn’t happened, and we are unconvinced by the club’s attempt to blame the lack of consultation on the FA’s name change process. “If there was no time for consultation, the club should have waited until there was time and honoured their promise to fans.” Allam has argued that the club will be more marketable as Hull Tigers, and has threatened to walk away if he does not get his way. He has suggested he will appeal against the FA’s decision. But son and vice-chairman Ehab has insisted the new badge celebrates both the Tigers’ history and future as they prepare to head into a first ever European campaign. He said: “This is a more stripped back and modern approach which still celebrates the club’s heritage and history by focusing on our famous and well established Tiger’s head. “We have also introduced ‘1904’ to the crest to document the year our club was formed. “Our first ever step into European competition is a new era for us all and we are all excited about the season ahead.”
Van Gaal, who ruthlessly cut loose some of his fringe players in the transfer window, will have the final say on whether the right-back is worthy of an extension to his current contract, which is due to expire at the end of next season. “I am glad I am still here, but sad because a lot of friends have left,” Rafael told United Uncovered. “I want to keep going and stay here forever, if possible. “It depends on me to play well, I need to play well. I just want to stay here. “I came here at 15-years-old so I have to say that I feel at home here. “I can never say enough about this club. It is one of the best clubs in the world, if not the best in the world.” Although diminutive in size, Rafael’s role at United has been a big one since Gary Neville hung up his boots in 2011. Upon his retirement, the former England defender ear-marked Rafael as the man to succeed him in the right-back role he occupied at Old Trafford for over a decade. Press Association Rafael joined United along with his twin brother Fabio from Brazilian club Fluminense in 2008. His sibling may have been moved on to Cardiff, but Rafael became a first-team regular under Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes, and n ow the 24-year-old wants to impress new manager Louis van Gaal. Ferguson once said Rafael trained “like a beast”, but the defender now has another role to play at the club – one of mentor. He may be just 24, but Rafael thinks he has an important role to play in helping United’s recent academy graduates and new signings settle in to the first-team squad. “When I first came here, I saw how a lot of players helped me like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes,” Rafael said. “Gary Neville, even though he played in my position, helped me a lot because he was one of the best right-backs in the world. “I want to do the same when I see some young players come in. Sometimes it’s difficult so my job is to try to help them. “Before, I saw some players arriving, foreign players, and they just cannot understand anything and I was exactly the same. “Sometimes, I still want to say: ‘What are they saying?’ It’s so hard and I try to help them because I know how difficult that is.” After recovering from a groin injury he suffered in pre-season, Rafael made his first appearance under Van Gaal last Sunday when United hammered QPR 4-0. The Red Devils will face better opposition this term, but the way in which Angel di Maria, Wayne Rooney and debutant substitute Radamel Falcao performed filled the United support with a sense of optimism that has been largely missing since Ferguson’s reign ended in the summer of 2013. Rafael won the Premier League three times under the Scot and he is desperate to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford as soon as possible. “I want to win the league again and I want us to get the winning way back,” he said. “Then everything will be like it’s always been at this club.” Van Gaal will look to record his second win on Sunday when United travel to Leicester. The Foxes are one of the favourites for relegation, but Van Gaal has been impressed by the spirit they have shown so far this term. “They have had some difficult games,” the United boss said of the Premier League newcomers, who have taken five points from their opening four matches. “For one hour against Chelsea away, it was 0-0, so I don’t think it’s an easy game. “They were behind (against Arsenal) and they came back (to draw) so the character in their team is very good.” Rafael knows he must perform to the best of his ability if he is to extend his contract at Manchester United and realise his dream of staying at Old Trafford for the rest of his career.
“I deal with a good performance the same as a poor performance – you have to accept it and move on,” he told Press Association Sport after Liverpool ended a three-match losing run in the league. “What I did after the (Ludogorets) game was look forward to the next game and that is what I will do again today. “It is always pleasing as a goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet but the most important thing is to get back to winning ways and hopefully we can build a bit of momentum now. “If you play at home you want to win games and we did the job and that is all that counts. “There is another game on Tuesday (against bottom side Leicester) and we will look forward to that one.” After an instantly forgettable first half which saw Liverpool lack any semblance of cutting edge or even an idea of how they were to break down Stoke they improved after the break. However, Jordan Henderson, standing in for the rested Steven Gerrard as captain, Raheem Sterling, Lucas Leiva and Rickie Lambert all had decent chances to score, but it was only after the visitors had hit the post through Bojan Krkic and Mignolet had produced a brilliant close-range block to deny Mame Biram Diouf that the winner came – from the most unlikely of sources. Henderson swung in a cross for Lambert to head over goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and back off the crossbar and right-back Glen Johnson was quickest to react with a low diving header to bundle the ball over the line with five minutes remaining. Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has shrugged off criticism aimed at him and insists he does not dwell on individual performances whether they are good or bad. Liverpool survived a nervous seven minutes of stoppage time to record only their third clean sheet of the season in a defence which saw one change from the midweek Champions League draw with Jose Enrique in at left-back, allowing Johnson to switch to his preferred right with Javier Manquillo the one to miss out. That meant a first league start since February 12 for Kolo Toure, who had impressed at centre-back in the last two European matches. “He has got the experience. He has played throughout the years and he knows what he is capable of doing,” Mignolet said of the 33-year-old Ivorian. “He can help the team and organise them so we know what to expect from him and he works his socks off every day in training and is always ready when the gaffer needs him.” Despite playing behind another changed back four Mignolet said it made no difference to him. “We are professional football players so we have to deal with that,” he added. “You train with all the lads in training every single day so you know what they can do and you know what their capabilities are.” Stoke manager Mark Hughes felt his side deserved a point with summer signing Krkic impressing. “I thought the outstanding player was Bojan. He was unfortunate to hit the post and had an outstanding volley at the end,” said the Potters boss. “Everyone saw the quality he has. He is getting stronger in every game. “He is enjoying the Premier League, enjoying playing for us. We need to give him the ball more often because he has the ability to produce.” The Belgium international came under even more scrutiny after an error in the midweek Champions League tie but responded with only his third clean sheet in 25 appearances in the scrappy 1-0 win over Stoke. Former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar this week blamed him for the club’s poor start to the campaign, criticising his inability to deal with crosses or command his area, but it has not even registered with Mignolet. Press Association
Press Association Ian Keatley knocked over his third successful penalty but Munster were unable to cross the whitewash on a frustrating night for the two-time European Cup winners. Foley admitted afterwards: “It was a very poor start (from us). That allowed Clermont to get belief and obviously gave them five points (with Lee’s try). “From there, they grew into the game and we didn’t get as physically into the game as we would have liked and some of that is turning over ball and not making good use of the ball, putting pressure on them. We soaked up a lot of pressure and ended up giving out points to them.” “We came into the game very confident to get a physical job done on them. We are not looking for excuses. Clermont were the better team here and we need to rectify that for next week. We need to be able to go over there and get one back.” Foley insists they are still very much in with a chance of quarter-final qualification, sitting second in the pool table just a point behind Clermont. Next weekend’s trip to the Stade Marcel Michelin is hugely significant and Foley explained: ” I don’t think we’re going to throw in any towel and we’ll give it our best shot. We’ll make sure that we stay fighting. “We’ve got to stay true to the badge that we’re wearing and turn up next week. It’s not a great feeling at the moment in the Munster camp so we need to rectify that,” he added. “We just need to turn up and play. We didn’t do that today. We made too many errors. We allowed them a good foothold in the game and they are good players. “We have good players but you can’t give those players front foot ball, an opportunity or a half-break. They make hay.” Meanwhile, Clermont boss Franck Azema was pleased with his side’s defensive effort which gave them the platform for the club’s second ever win on Irish spoil – they also beat Leinster at the Aviva Stadium in a December 2012 pool game. He said: “(I’m) happy, but we are only halfway. The first part is finished and the second part starts next week but it’s a good position to be in. “We know in both games it is important to take maximum points but we are in a good position tonight – but when you see the last five minutes (when Munster came hard at us) and the score, we may be wary (of) next week. “We were in a comfortable position to win the game (at half-time) but the last five minutes showed that it was not finished. Certainly next week we have a big game. “Our defence was good, was strong. In the last five minutes we were able to control this and I’m very proud of the players because they give it their all in the last five minutes.” Clermont became the first French team to beat Munster at their Limerick fortress, ending a 23-match winning streak in such fixtures for the Irish province. The Reds’ only previous European home defeats came against Leicester Tigers (2007) and Ulster (2012). Man-of-the-match Fritz Lee and Wesley Fofana both touched down in the opening quarter, with Camille Lopez’s penalty and drop goal making it 16-6 to the French giants. Munster head coach Anthony Foley bemoaned his side’s ‘very poor start’ as Clermont Auvergne’s 16-9 victory at Thomond Park moved them to the top of European Champions Cup Pool 1One.
Academy graduate Lloyd Isgrove has signed a two-year contract extension at Southampton. Having joined Saints aged nine, the midfielder has this season gone onto make four first-team appearances for the club. Isgrove, now 22, has seen such progress rewarded by a contract extension until 2017, having previously penned successive one-year deals at St Mary’s. “It’s a bit of security,” the Welsh midfielder told Southampton’s official YouTube channel. “I’m 22 now so obviously this takes me to 24. “It won’t stop me working hard and pushing in training. That’s a good age to be playing at a high level. “It shows that they believe in my abilities. They want me on a two-year instead of doing the one-years that I’ve previously done before, which is only positive for me. “It’s probably the biggest two years of my career so far. If I can get a run of games and stuff, I can really push on and really establish myself as a professional player.” Press Association
Press Association “She’s very well. She’s going in as an underdog but deserves to take her chance. She’s only had the two runs and is a winner and a black-type filly already,” said O’Callaghan. “She was entitled to get tired on her first run and did get tired but still finished third. “The mile on better ground will suit her more and we’re hoping for a big run.” Mick Channon’s Malabar, fourth in the Guineas at Newmarket, leads the British raiders, while James Given runs both Pastoral Girl and Russian Punch. In Jack Naylor and Bocca Baciata, Harrington must surely not have had a better chance of landing her first Group One on the Flat since Pathfork won the National Stakes five years ago. Jack Naylor achieved far more at two, beating subsequent Newmarket Guineas winner Legatissimo on her final start, but she will be having her first outing for 231 days. While Jessica Harrington is better known as the trainer of the likes of former champion hurdler Jezki and legendary chaser Moscow Flyer, she is no stranger to saddling big winners on the level and has two fine chances in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh. Bocca Baciata was slower to come to hand, but was not beaten far by tomorrow’s favourite, Found, on her debut in August and looked very good in beating Jim Bolger’s Pleascach, subsequently a Group Three winner and whom she meets again, in the Salsabil Stakes on her return. Alan Cooper, racing manager to Bocca Baciata’s owners, Flaxman Stables, said: “The filly is very well and her form lines look very good. “She won on yielding ground on her first run of the year and I think that suits her very well, but I don’t think better ground would be a problem, either. “She’s coming back to a mile, which shouldn’t be a problem. We’ll see what happens.” As well as Found, Aidan O’Brien runs Kissed By Angels, who was an impressive winner of a trial two weeks ago where she beat Willie McCreery’s Devonshire, but her connections want another crack at the winner. She was supplemented by Godolphin on Monday. “I’m very happy with her, she has been working well and I believe running her in the Irish 1,000 Guineas is the right thing to do,” McCreery told www.godolphin.com. Michael O’Callaghan is in search of the biggest win of his career with Military Angel, who has only had two runs.
Press Association Police are to clamp down on known troublemakers in a bid to head off problems at England’s friendly clash with the Republic of Ireland in Dublin next month. The two nations meet in the city on June 7, the first time they have done so since rioting England supporters forced the abandonment of a friendly in February 1995. Acquaintances were renewed in May 2013 when Ireland travelled to Wembley for a 1-1 friendly draw, a game which passed without incident. However, after witnessing a deterioration in behaviour among travelling supporters at England’s last four away games, police are to enforce football banning orders for the game at the Aviva Stadium. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead on football policing, said: “It has been a point of pride in recent years that England fans’ behaviour has completely moved on from the dark days of the 1980s. “We have been able to tell overseas police colleagues that they will not encounter the sort of problems that used to be associated with England fans. “While the majority of fans continue to behave themselves, in the last four England away fixtures, we have seen a significant amount of drunken anti-social behaviour, unpleasant chanting aimed at provoking home supporters, and a small number of people who seem to take every opportunity to create distress for others. “Regrettably, that means we have to increase our enforcement activity using tactics that proved successful in addressing these problems in the past.” Fans subject to banning orders are already have to surrender their passports and for the first time in four years, will also be required to attend nominated police stations and confirm attendance with a signature. Those who fail to comply will be rounded up by police in a national operation. ACC Roberts said: “Given the deterioration in fan behaviour and the proximity of Dublin, I have reintroduced the requirement to sign on at a police station as well as to surrender passports. “We will be running a national operation to round up those who fail to comply before and immediately after the fixture. “To make triply sure of compliance, these measures will be supplemented with all official England Supporters Travelling Club members being required to collect their tickets in person in Dublin with photo ID. “I am in regular contact with the FA and other partners in the football community and, while there is no specific intelligence as yet to suggest planned disorder, there is sufficient concern to take proactive action to ensure that fans are clear that bad behaviour is not acceptable and will face serious sanctions. “Football policing ‘spotters’ from England will also be present in Dublin and the Aviva Stadium to gather evidence of any bad behaviour and ensure anyone who offends faces the consequences of their actions. We are working closely with An Garda Siochana to support their operation.”
Chelsea boss Mourinho has accused Arsenal of trying to buy their way to the Premier League title, claiming totting up the Gunners’ spending over the last two years leads to a “surprise”. Wenger attempted to downplay the pair’s simmering feud ahead of Sunday’s meeting, but conceded the contest is bound to carry a level of spice. “You know, it will not be a friendly, because it is just like that – and it is good like that,” said Wenger. “That’s part of our game now – you have to accept that every game is judged as though it’s definite. “But you know in real life it is not like that. “The tribunal is out there and we’ll draw conclusions from Sunday, but no matter if it’s positive or negative we have to continue on our way and focus on ourselves.” Asked if his winless personal record against Mourinho was any concern, Wenger replied: “No, not at all.” Wenger then moved quickly to shoot down the line of inquiry, laughing off suggestions his relationship with Mourinho is far colder than his previous rivalry with ex-Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson. Press Association Wenger accepted there would be few pleasantries when Arsenal face Chelsea in Sunday’s Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday. The Gunners’ French manager is prepared for the “tribunal” of public scrutiny he believes follows every big clash in English football, vowing not to alter his Premier League plans win or lose this weekend. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger insists he remains unfazed by his inability to register a single victory over Jose Mourinho in 13 attempts. “I’ll leave your love story with him to continue without interfering,” joked Wenger, light-heartedly suggesting the media favour Mourinho. “I wouldn’t like to interfere in that.” When challenged that Mourinho believes it is Arsenal who receive preferential treatment, Wenger replied: “So it’s all about love.” Returning to the weight carried by Sunday’s Community Shield, Wenger continued: “It’s a game that is important, but it’s still preparation. “We want to win it but overall I think we can just give that little bit more confidence before we go into the season if we do well.” New recruit Petr Cech is expected to start in goal on Sunday in a quick-fire showdown with former club Chelsea. Wenger backed the 33-year-old for a lengthy stint at the Emirates. “He has an intimidating presence, that is for sure,” said Wenger. “In goal, he makes the goal look smaller, and that’s the kind of charisma he has. “But he has big size as well. “He has a good combination between quality, agility and size, and he has always looked built for English football. “And he’s a very bright boy as well. “I think his move is a bit like Van der Saar at that age, moving from Fulham to Manchester United and he still had five or six years with United. “So I don’t see why Petr should not have a few years. “He’s very serious, trains well, so there’s no big problem.”