Craig Bellamy hints at Wales retirement

Craig Bellamy
Bellamy has won 67 Wales caps, scoring 19 times

Wales striker Craig Bellamy admits he is considering international retirement after the Gary Speed memorial match against Costa Rica in February.

Speed died in November after leading a resurgence in the Wales national team and he has been succeeded as manager by Chris Coleman.

And Bellamy, 32, says the Costa Rica game on 29 February could be his final Wales appearance.

"I don't know whether I'll play on for Wales," Bellamy told the Daily Mirror.external-link

"I do think it's going to be difficult for me to play because of the impact of what happened [to Gary Speed].

"I am committed to the Costa Rica game and then it might be my last. I'm not too sure. It might be but it might not. There are a lot of people I need to talk to.

"Wales has meant everything to me. It has been the highlight of my career.

"I believed in him [Speed] that much as a manager and I believed in him that much as a person, I actually thought we were going to qualify for the World Cup.

"I wanted him [Speed] to have that satisfaction as well because I saw how hard he tried for Wales and how hard he played. To try to qualify and him not be there, I don't know."

The Liverpool star made his Wales debut aged 18 against Jamaica in March 1998 but his injury problems have restricted him to 67 caps.

Bellamy conceded after Wales lost 2-0 to England on March 2 that he would consider his international future after the Nations Cup double-header with Scotland and Northern Ireland.

But after talks with Speed, Bellamy continued and was in fine form when Wales enjoyed a run of four wins from five games before the manager's death in November.

New manager Coleman has had initial talks with Bellamy about him extending his international career to the end of the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Coleman said after taking over as manager: "We need Craig Bellamy, not just because of his ability but also because of his mentality. He can be demanding and difficult but also he wants things done right and sometimes that pushes people in the right direction, so I hope he stays."

One sticking point could be the future of Raymond Verheijen, who was Wales assistant manager under Speed, and is very close to Bellamy.

With Kit Symons, the 36-times capped defender, to be an assistant under Coleman there may be no room for the Dutchman. If that is the case it could hasten Bellamy's retirement.

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