x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Olympics: Bellamy helps Brits forget about Beckham

The Welsh forward has been a star performer as the Great Britain side made it to the quarter-finals.

Britain's striker Craig Bellamy has been a stand-out player for Stuart Pearce's team. Glyn Kirk / AFP
Britain's striker Craig Bellamy has been a stand-out player for Stuart Pearce's team. Glyn Kirk / AFP

Craig Bellamy is certainly no David Beckham. For Britain's Olympic football team, perhaps that is a good thing.

Stuart Pearce, the Britain coach, caused an uproar when he left Beckham out of the team for the Olympics, opting to go with the forward as one of his three overage players instead - alongside the Manchester United veteran Ryan Giggs and the defender Micah Richards.

But with Bellamy having been perhaps the team's best player so far, few are missing Beckham anymore.

"It is brilliant to be part of the Olympics," the 33-year-old Bellamy said ahead of the team's quarter-final tomorrow against South Korea. "I am enjoying everything about it - wearing the kit, having the accreditation around my neck."

Bellamy's image could hardly be any more different from Beckham - who has been the poster boy of English football for the last decade. Bellamy has clashed with both teammates and opponents in the past, and was arrested on suspicion of assault last year - but was not convicted.

Beckham was also seen as a key member of the team that successfully bid for the Olympics and many fans wanted him to be rewarded with a spot in the team.

But Pearce made his team selection purely based on football reasons - ignoring the fact that Beckham's presence would also have garnered more support for the team and helped with ticket sales.

But the team have played to full stadiums, and their good results seem to have won over most sceptics. And Bellamy has been key to team's success.

Bellamy scored Britain's first goal of the Olympics in the team's opening 1-1 draw against Senegal. He then set up two of the goals in the team's 3-1 victory over the UAE.

On Wednesday in his hometown of Cardiff against Uruguay, he captained the side in the absence of Giggs, who was rested. Pearce said the experience Bellamy and Giggs is key to Britain's chances of a medal.

Bellamy is sticking true to his Welsh colours though and refusing to get caught up in talk of medals.

"That's you English, that is what you lot do," Bellamy joked. "I'm Welsh and just grateful to be involved."