Kenny Dalglish praised the attitude of Craig Bellamy after the grieving forward played a key role in Liverpool’s Carling Cup victory over Chelsea.
Bellamy was withdrawn from the Liverpool squad for Sunday’s English Premier League match against Manchester City following the death of Wales manager Gary Speed.
Speed was a friend and former team-mate of Bellamy.
The 32-year-old returned to the team on Tuesday, helping to set up both goals as Liverpool defeated Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, booking their place in the Carling Cup semi-finals.
“We know he’s a fantastic footballer,” Dalglish said of the well-travelled front man.
“He had a hugely disappointing day on Sunday. Speedo, who he regarded as a mentor, passed away.”
“To come back and play like that, and for any of the players that have been a friend of his to have played over the weekend or have played tonight elsewhere, it speaks volumes for him because he was very well liked and very well respected.”
“So for the wee man (Bellamy) it is great for him, making the first goal as well.”
While pleased to reach the last four of the Carling Cup, Dalglish continued his criticism of the competition’s scheduling, which has forced several teams to endure quick turnarounds between matches.
“The way we’re progressing is very significant in any cup, especially a cup that’s been cheapened by the actions of the people who run it,” he said.
“But we just brush ourselves down. We’ve got our reward and look forward to the next game.”
“I know we’re in the semi-final. At least we’ve got a home game now. Three teams in the quarter-finals have got problems with fixtures and that’s totally irresponsible.”
The victory over Chelsea did not come without a cost with Liverpool losing the services of in-form holding player Lucas Leiva during the match.
The Brazil midfielder was stretchered off in the second half.
“He’s damaged his knee,” Dalglish said.
“We’re not sure how it is. We don’t know what it is. Rather than speculate, we’ll best get a proper synopsis. We’ll need to get it scanned.”