Mens Team

Bellamy: Derby tide turned after 2009 defeat

DERBY DAYS: Craig Bellamy celebrates against Manchester United.
Ten years have passed since Craig Bellamy was left devastated at Old Trafford.

His 90th minute equaliser was rendered meaningless after Michael Owen inflicted Manchester derby heartbreak deep into added time.

Only, for the Welshman, who also scored a stunning goal earlier in the game, his most memorable performance in a City shirt was not totally in vain.

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Whilst we left Old Trafford with nothing to show for our efforts that day, Bellamy felt it was the moment the derby tide started to turn in Manchester.

Many City fans would point to our 2011 FA Cup semi-final win, but the 40-year-old believes the seeds were sown on that sunny September afternoon two years earlier.

“For me, that was my moment,” he said. “I remember being devastated when we lost.

“This was City coming to Old Trafford, where we’d been laughed at over a few years about where we finished in the league.

“[I thought] the tide’s turning, and I’m not sure I’m going to be there, but you’ll remember this derby and I’ve played a big part in it.

“And in years to come you’re going to remember more derbies with this club finishing at the top of the league.

“I think they thought they could put us away, but City were coming back and getting stronger, and it’s still not over.”

It’s turned out to be quite the prophecy.

City have won 12 of the 25 derbies since, with United claiming 10, while we’ve also lifted 13 trophies in that time, to the Reds’ eight.

Nonetheless that game is a bittersweet memory for Bellamy.

His first goal, a fierce drive from distance that gave United ‘keeper Ben Foster no chance, was unforgettable.

It sparked a passionate celebration from the winger, who raced straight for a TV camera, but that wasn’t merely the euphoria of netting an unstoppable strike in a game of such magnitude.

The reaction, Bellamy reveals, was in response to criticism he received in the media during pre-season, which he says was the catalyst for the 11 goals and 14 assists he provided in the 2009/10 campaign.

“We played Barnsley in pre-season, I played quite well but it was pre-season,” he added.

“I remember a journalist had the audacity, and I mean that, to write: ‘Craig Bellamy played well, but like he does against lesser teams’.

“It relit me. I was like, ‘yeah, I’ll show you this year’.

“When I scored against Manchester United at Old Trafford, you’ll see me running towards the camera and I am saying ‘what have you got to say now’.

“In my head was that article. I can’t do it against the big teams? I can’t do it at Old Trafford?

“I’d gone to Barcelona and done it and you’re telling me I only do it against lesser teams.

“I thanked that journalist. He gave me the fire to go really hard that year.”

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