Bellamy: I’m a changed man
Forward Craig Bellamy insists he is a changed man since arriving at Liverpool and has put his volatile days of arguments and scuffles well behind him.
The Wales international’s reputation means he is right up there when it comes to Premier League players opposition fans take an instant dislike to.
But ask any supporter of a club he has played for, and there have been many, and you get a different response.
That was highlighted in the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final at Anfield where the 32-year-old received generous applause from Manchester City’s travelling contingent despite the fact he had scored the goal which ended their hopes of a Wembley appearance.
Instead it will be Liverpool facing Cardiff, Bellamy’s hometown club where he spent last season on loan, in the final on Sunday.
Bellamy is expected to start as he searches for his first medal in English football but if the Bluebirds think they can affect his game by winding him up they may be mistaken.
"I probably speak to and see people more than I have ever done in my life," said the Welshman.
"I am aware of the people I need to surround myself with and have more of a focal point of where I want to be in my life and how I want to be as a person.
"Football is a complete hobby and I enjoy myself every day. I used to think I was obsessed but I am truly committed to my sport.
"I am committed to the club and the profession I am in and by doing that I give myself the best opportunity to be able to play well on a Saturday.
"When I go out I don’t think about scoring or anything else apart from trying my hardest.
"If anything comes off then great. If it doesn’t I can walk off truly knowing I have given my all and if someone was better then great.
"Going with that approach every day in training and in life has just clicked, it has made a difference.
"I have been able to control so many different things in my performance and the football looks after itself – it is a nice feeling every day.
"It isn’t just about football. I try to be at ease but I still have my moments.
"It has been eventful because it has all been in practice in training, taking weeks, not yelling when someone gives the ball away.
"The ‘chimp’ still comes out every now and then but I have to think about the rational, human being side."
The chimp reference is in relation to a mind-management book by Dr Steve Peters, whom Bellamy has spoken with.
The Chimp Paradox explains how to separate the human from the ape element in the brain and therefore control your responses.
But it is not just the psychological side of the game that Bellamy has started to pay more attention to, he is working hard on keeping himself in shape.
"I am in (training) as early as I can to make sure I do everything right to be able to play well," he added.
"I am one of the last ones to leave because I have to do ice baths, swimming pools and treatments and work with my knees on a daily basis.
"It has been a complete revamp for me but it is amazing."
So with his new-found serenity how will Bellamy react if he is told he is not starting against Cardiff?
"When you are young you are always pushing for a point to prove and you listen to the media more – ‘Bellamy dropped’ – and it hits you," he said.
"I have realised that isn’t usually the case and I believe in myself.
"Honestly, I feel so comfortable in myself at the moment that even if I wasn’t on the bench it wouldn’t mean too much to me because it would be someone else’s opportunity."
Bellamy has already dismissed the idea that Sunday is a dream final for him, suggesting the best result for him would be a narrow Liverpool win with him not involved in the winning goal.
He also insists the Carling Cup final will not make or break the Reds’ recovery from a difficult time in their history.
"Six years (without a trophy) isn’t the worst. I can live with that because seven years ago they won the European Cup and six years ago it was the FA Cup," said Bellamy.
"There have been one or two semi-finals since then and it is not as bad as people think.
"They like to mention the club haven’t been to Wembley in 16 years but it was shut for eight or nine of them.
"This club will win trophies, it is primed to win trophies. Every day I walk into training I have to walk past the European Cup – that says it all.
"Winning on Sunday will not make a difference to the next few years."