Wales forward Bellamy to retire from international football

Craig Bellamy is ready to retire from international football after Wales’ World Cup qualifiers next week, BBC Sport has reported.

The 34-year-old has won 76 caps for Wales and scored 19 goals during a 15-year international career. Bellamy suggested that his retirement from the Wales side is best for the team: “Players come and go and my career has definitely come and gone. I have to do what’s best for the national team and this group of players are the future. The next qualifiers, two-odd years, I’m not going to see it.

They have to have a better opportunity of qualifying. I have to cut myself short.

I’m just grateful for every game I’ve been lucky enough to play for my country, and I really mean that. It’s an honour to play for your country at any level at any sport.

Bellamy added: “[Playing] 70-odd times, it’s been the best. Even the disappointments, even the lows, even the times I didn’t want to play again because sometimes defeats can do that to you,

Wales face Macedonia at Cardiff City Stadium on Friday for the penultimate World Cup qualifier, before heading to Brussels to take on Belgium on Tuesday.

Seventy-odd times having that honour like singing the anthem… it’s still the best and Friday will be the best and hopefully I will get the chance to do it again on Tuesday. [It] will be hard to let go.

My daughter will probably come out with me [before the Macedonia game] but it will probably hit me more after it… when you’re watching the team.

Bellamy is the third most-capped Welsh player of all time and is fifth on the all-time scorers’ chart with 19 goals. The former Wales captain made his debut as an 18-year-old in a friendly against Jamaica in March 1998, replacing Gareth Taylor during the second half of a goalless draw at Ninian Park.

Bellamy could miss Tuesday’s qualifier against Belgium through suspension if he receives a yellow card in the Macedonia match on Friday.

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