Craig Bellamy 2007-2009

The fiery Welshman signed for the Hammers for a then record fee for the club of £7.5 million. His career at the club was severely hampered by persistent injuries which had dogged much of Bellamy’s earlier career. When the pacy striker did feature he was always impressive and his scoring rate of 9 goals in 22 starts bears reference to that fact.

Bellamy was subject to a number of offers during his second season at the club and it was no surprise that he moved to Manchester City for a fee reputed to be in the region of £14.5 Million linking up with his former national team coach Mark Hughes. Bellamy was a success at the Etihad just at the time the club was becoming the giant it is today.

Bellamy had a number of highlights at his time with the club scoring twice in 4-3 defeat at Old Trafford increasingly with the high turnover of players and with the departure of Hughes himself Bellamy was eventually omitted from City’s Premier League squad despite him repeatedly stating his desire to stay with the club.

Bellamy was eventually allowed to join Cardiff City on loan in the summer of 2010 a dream come true for the boyhood Cardiff fan. Bellamy was outstanding for the Welsh club however despite his displays the club could only reach the Championship play offs where they were beaten by Reading, keen to stay and help the Bluebirds promotion fight Bellamy asked City to allow him leave on a free transfer, City refused and eventually Liverpool re-signed the Welshman in 2011.

His second spell at Liverpool was overshadowed by the death of his good friend Gary Speed and this had an understandably huge effect on Bellamy, he did go on to win the League Cup in that season and played in the FA Cup Final loss to Chelsea the same year.

In the summer of 2012 Bellamy retuned to Cardiff helping them to promotion in his first season back and the following season Bellamy became the first player to score for 7 different Premier League clubs it was his only goal that season and Bellamy retired from the game in May 2014.

He has also represented both Wales and the Great Britain Olympic Side with distinction

Outside of football Bellamy has set up a Foundation in Sierra Leone which is run as a not for profit basis providing free education and elite level football coaching. He has also played a pivotal role in setting up the Craig Bellamy Foundation League which awards points for school attendance, fair play and contribution to community projects as well as performances on the pitch. The league provides employment for over 175 coaches and Managers, in 2009 alone 1,600 boys were trained on a daily basis supported by the League.

Bellamy is an interesting character he had a certain persona on the pitch and did not always handle himself correctly away from the game, but what cannot be argued is his application and his drive to both better himself and those around him

Phil Woosnam 1959-1962

Phil Woosnam was known as player with great football intelligence a gifted inside forward who contributed a decent goal return in his time with both West Ham and Aston Villa but is widely credited with creating chances for those in the forward line.

The ex-Manchester City and Fulham player Rodney Marsh described the Welshman as a slim Matthew Le Tissier, “not a quick player but with a fantastic football brain” Woosnman represented Wales at schoolboy and Youth levels before studying at Bangor University in preparation for a career in teaching.

Woosnam moved to the east end to take up a job as a Physics and Maths teacher while playing for Leyton Orient as an amateur, his performances for the O’s led to him being capped by the Welsh national team and so to a professional contract with West Ham. He served the Hammers with distinction before moving onto Aston Villa before moving to the United States in 1966.

Phil joined the Atlanta Chiefs in the unsanctioned (i.e. not FIFA recognised) National Professional Soccer League the predecessor to the FIFA approved NASL  in a player coach role earning the coach of the year award in 1968 which led him to being appointed U.S national team manager in 1968.

His brief tenure with the US national team ended in 1969 when he was appointed commissioner of the North American Soccer League (NASL). Woosnam oversaw its growth from the original 5 teams to 24 just 10 years later. By 1978 NASL had welcomed many of the world’s greatest players to the League, Bobby Moore, Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, George Best and Johan Cruyff and many many more made their way across the Atlantic enticed by the money and the razzmatazz.

Woosnam was responsible for recruiting the World class players and making subtle rule changes to the game which added to the sense of occasion which is a common theme in other American sports. Woosnam lobbied FIFA to change its rules and let the League use a 35 yard line for offside and penalty shoot outs to settle matches in the case of a draw.

Sadly the League collapsed in 1984, but undeterred Woosnam remained dedicated to establishing a platform for football in the U.S and played a part in the country’s successful bid for the 1994 World Cup which served as the trigger for the MLS today.

Woosnam was inducted into the US National Soccer Hall of fame in 1997 and is widely regarded as a footballing pioneer who helped establish the game in the U.S

Sadly Phil passed away in 2013 aged 80, but his contribution to the game is not to be under estimated, one of clubs quiet heroes.