Cardiff City forward Craig Bellamy has confirmed that he will retire from international football with Wales following the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Belgium.
“Players come and go and my career has definitely come and gone,” Bellamy said. “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.”
For Bellamy, who has 76 caps for Wales and scored 19 goals during a 15-year international career, the impetus to retire is his belief that the current set of young, talented Welsh players gives the nation a better chance of qualification for Euro 2016.
“They have to have a better opportunity of qualifying. I have to cut myself short,” he said.
The former Wales captain will go down as one of his country’s best ever players. He is the third most-capped Welsh player of all time and is fifth on the all-time scorers’ chart with 19 goals.
“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 honor to play for your country at any level at any sport.”
The World Cup qualifier against Macedonia on Friday will be Bellamy’s final Wales appearance on home soil. The match also could be his final cap if he is shown a yellow card, which would rule him out for Tuesday’s qualifier against Belgium through suspension.
To one of the most tenacious, dedicated and inspiring players to ever come out of Wales, we salute you.