Malky Mackay feels Craig Bellamy’s “hunger” to represent Cardiff City in the Premier League will prolong his club career for several years.
The Cardiff manager has dismissed any notion that Bellamy will hang up his boots for good in the aftermath of his decision to retire from international football in October at the end of Wales’ unsuccessful FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Bellamy turned 34 last Saturday, but Mackay insists the well-travelled striker still has plenty to offer to his hometown team as they prepare to sample life in the Premier League for the first time.
“Craig is a huge influence, a senior player who has been there, seen it, done it,” Mackay told WalesOnline.
“He has a hunger and wants to play for his home club.
“Any thought of retirement is a few years off yet. He’s nowhere near that.”
Having started out at Norwich City, Bellamy has gone on to play for the likes of Newcastle United, Celtic, Liverpool and Manchester City before joining Cardiff on a permanent deal in 2012 following a loan spell.
Mackay knows only too well what difference the forward can have in shaping the club’s short-term fortunes – on and off the pitch.
Added Mackay: “I have great belief in him.
“He has grasped the nettle in terms of coming to Cardiff and buying into what we are doing, which something different to what he has been used to.
“Craig is used to a dog-eat-dog world at Newcastle United, Manchester City and Liverpool. Here at Cardiff it’s a different approach.
“He has to be a mentor to some of younger guys. There can be times when he is frustrated about something or other.
“That’s often when he realises there are times when he has to take a step back and go and help guys.”