Bellamy targets success and high standards for Cymru

New Cymru head coach Craig Bellamy sat down with and set out his targets in terms of success and the standards he expects from his players as a new era for the national team begins.

“Believe it or not, to the shock of so many people, I’m actually very calm!” said Bellamy. “I am, I’m fun and I’m light-hearted! I expect standards to be really high because I set them on myself. I feel it’s so important, and the culture around the place, it’s hugely important to me. I don’t expect people to be perfect, I never have, but I expect you to have the perfect attitude. Then we’re on the right track. I’m really proud, I didn’t realise how much it meant to me until I had the interview it and it was just like ‘I have to do this’. This is just too big to me.”

Bellamy made 78 appearances for his country between 1998 and 2013, and now he succeeds Rob Page with the ambition of taking Cymru to the major tournaments that missed out on during his own playing career, with a four-year contract to take him through the 2026 FIFA World Cup and EURO 2028. “I look back and we weren’t good enough,” he explained. “Honest truth. The groups and the managers have been good enough over the last periods, that’s why they’ve qualified. But for me to be in a major tournament, the planning and preparing for games, it’s beyond exciting. I’m just looking forward to it right now, the work-side of it, because we have to be at those two tournaments.

“I loved being able to watch Wales in tournaments. I did expect to, I’m not going to lie, I did feel over the next few years it was going to happen. Just with the players coming through and the good work Gary (Speed) put in place, then we had the good work that Chris Coleman put in place, and Ryan (Giggs) and and Robert Page as well were able to follow suit. So for me it’s about maintaining the standards that have been set, but also can you go higher? Can you push it even more? And that’s what drives me. It’s can we really go after stuff? Can we really improve on the good work that’s already been done?”

Bellamy was a proven striker for club and country, and spoke about how he intends his team to adopt the same positive approach as preparations begin for the next edition of the UEFA Nations League in September.

“Playing-wise we will be very much front foot,” he explained. “I love pressing and I’m excited about pressing and counter-pressing without the ball. It’s a real passion for me, and I love to dominate the ball. I see the game as like a puzzle at times and you’re just trying to put the pieces together. So by the time the game comes you’re able to put it all together. So that excites me and and this group of players excite me as well, the age group of the players excites me, but also the speed of a lot of these players as well. A lot of these players have tournament experience behind them, and I’m just looking forward to being able to work with this talented group.

“The team always comes first, and the team goes from the staff in the building to literally the whole squad that you look to pick because you’ll never finish with the game with the players you start with. So for me the team is the most important thing. I’m never going to sit here and tell you I know everything. No one can have this game mastered, that’s why we love this game so much. I think what’s important is that every fan in Wales towards our players is like ‘we’ve got your back, we’re there for you’, and that’s the same as a manager as well. You get a telling off when you need it or we feel you’re not respecting the standards that we set, but also, you do the right things, you will get praised more and more than what you would expect.”

Watch now

Watch Bellamy’s first press conference

Available to watch in full on RedWall+

Bellamy experienced the good and the bad during his international playing career, but always held a strong connection with The Red Wall and he emphasised the important role the fans will have to play. “We’ve we’ve always had a good fan base,” he added. “It’s always been passionate and it’s always been quite loud. Over the last six or seven years I’ve been really envious that I wasn’t playing in this, and the fans understand their importance as well. The way they’ve been able to back the players, the way been able to drive them and that they knew the players needed them at certain moments in games. It’s rare because sometimes fans can get a little bit edgy and they go a little bit quiet at certain moments. They’ve realised that this is where they need us. We’ve got to keep this going and can we get it even more? And that’s what I’m quite excited about as well.”

It is clear that Bellamy brings a genuine passion to the role and after wearing his heart on his sleeve for Cymru as a player for so many years, and the standards he set for himself will now continue as he takes responsibility for leading the team into this new and exciting era. “I’m committed 24/7,” he said. “This is not a part-time job. This is every day because I want to keep improving as well and this is not an opportunity for me to do a couple of games and then have a couple of months off, as I will work even harder in that period. Whether it’s going to meet players, going to football clubs to see what they do, whether it’s travelling around Wales, you name it. It’s my responsibility to go above and beyond, and actually I’m relishing that part of it as well.”

Click here

Be there for Cymru

Find out about our campaign tickets


Don’t miss out

FAW news directly to your inbox

Learn more from FA Wales

Sign up to receive all things FAW, from team news, tickets, domestic, grassroots, to exclusive offers and prize draws.

We respect your privacy and are committed to protecting your personal data – view our privacy policy by clicking here.