Bellamy predicts bright future
Forward Craig Bellamy is convinced Wales now have a manager in Gary Speed who can deliver long-term success. Speed has endured a difficult start to his reign with a lacklustre 2-0 UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying loss to England in Cardiff yesterday, following a 3-0 friendly loss to the Republic of Ireland.
Wales are bottom of Group G and have little hope of reaching the EURO 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine after four successive defeats. Yet Bellamy has been impressed with Speed, who was appointed as John Toshack's long-term successor in December, and how the former national captain has modernised the team's set-up.
"It has been the best week I've been involved in with Welsh football, to be honest," said Bellamy.
"All my career I've been fortunate enough to play for my country, but for the first time I really see a future, and the national team being able to do something. It has been so professional, the preparation this week. It's been so spot-on.
"There has to be professionalism off the pitch to get a good performance on it. For the first time in my Welsh history - we touched on it a bit with Mark Hughes - we are more developed.
"I have spent all my career involved in really highly professional clubs and then when I came to Wales it was amateur. But I have seen so much to be pleased about this week. I have no doubt Welsh football in four or five years time will be having a lot of success."
Uncertain future for Bellamy
Bellamy, who has spent the season on loan at hometown Cardiff from Manchester City, concedes he may not have a great role to play in Speed's new era. The fiery striker remains one of Wales' most potent weapons but will not be able to play every game as he manages a long-term knee complaint.
Bellamy missed the October qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland and was a non-playing member of Speed's first squad in the Republic of Ireland. It is for that reason Bellamy asked Speed not to consider him for the captain's role he had fulfilled under Toshack.
Wales do not play again until returning to Dublin in May for their remaining Nations Cup games against Scotland and Northern Ireland.
"I am 31 years of age, I have had nine operations. The future isn't great for me," Bellamy said. "I don't try to look too far ahead. My body is different to other 31-year-olds because of the work I have had done.
"I try to take season upon season because of that. I will see how I am in the summer. Age and my conditions - my knee - don't allow me to look much further than the next couple of months.
"Of course I would love to keep going as long as I can, I have enjoyed this week. There are two more games in the summer, but I can't look further than that yet. I just can't."
Ramsey spearheads new era
The captain's armband was taken yesterday by Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey who, at 20-years-old, became the country's youngest-ever skipper. Bellamy believes the future lies with players like Ramsey and 21-year-old Gareth Bale, who did not feature at the Millennium Stadium yesterday because of a hamstring injury.
The manner of defeat to England was disappointing, with early goals from Frank Lampard and Darren Bent killing off any hope.
"We have young players we have to be positive about," said Bellamy. "We are not just playing young players, but good young players.
"In a few years time these players will have learnt from this game. I'll be watching in the stands. A lot of my years have been wasted, but these young players are going to learn from this.
"We're obviously disappointed but in the long run it will be very important. It is not nice losing games and it is not going to benefit me, but it will benefit a lot of young players."