“This is not a good move for you.”
Bellamy was a Liverpool fan as a kid, and under Rafa Benitez the Reds had just won the FA Cup and the European Cup in the two previous seasons, so it seemed like a dream move.
A chance to wear the jersey of your boyhood team, and win some real silverware as a top player is surely the goal for all aspiring footballers, but Hughes, who managed Blackburn at the time, knew that it was the wrong move.
Speaking on the latest episode of The Overlap, Gary Neville asked Bellamy about his transfer to Anfield.
“To get the privilege of playing for Liverpool, it was like – I had to do this, even though I was very happy at Blackburn at the time. So I spoke to Mark Hughes who was not happy for me.
“I thought he would be, but he said something really interesting, it was like ‘I know who you are, I know how Liverpool play, and I know how the manager plays – this is not a good move for you.’
“He said ‘you’re not going to enjoy it, you won’t enjoy it.”
Gary Neville asked “Did you enjoy it?”
“No I really didn’t”, replied Bellamy. “It was very rigid.”
Although Benitez enjoyed great success at the club, and did get the best out of players such as Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres, the last of transfers that only lasted one season under him is quite lengthy.
The Spaniard was very defensive and constantly chopped and changed the team in order to make his style work, as Robbie Keane later found out when he made the move back I 2009, only to leave six months later.
Bellamy was shipped out the following summer, but he did end coming back later in his career and enjoyed a much more fruitful period at his childhood club.
Craig Bellamy on the brutally cold way he found out that Liverpool wanted to sell him.
Despite everything that was seemingly wrong in the Liverpool camp, they made it to the Champions League final that season against AC Milan, losing 2-1 in the end.
Bellamy was on the bench that night and never came on, meaning that he missed out on his one opportunity to play on the biggest stage in club football, but to make matters worse, Benitez sat next to him on the plane home.
Still hurt from the defeat and the fact that he never got onto the pitch, those feelings were only compounded when his manager decided that now was the perfect time to break some bad news to him.
“He just come and sat next to me and said ‘look, we have identified other targets, we feel that we’re able to bring them in, if you feel there’s an opportunity to go to another club, you can speak to your agent and go an explore that.
“I needed to (leave) because I was going to be even more of a squad player than I already was. I remember we played Everton at Goodison, and this was like three or four games in, and I wasn’t even in the squad.
“That was a hard one to take. Going into most games, I honestly didn’t know if I was playing, even against Barcelona, I only knew an hour and a half before that I was playing.”
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