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Craig Bellamy: Team GB a 'great honour' for Wales players
Published : 03 Nov 2011 13:47:54
Craig Bellamy has thrown his backing behind Wales players representing Team GB at the 2012 Olympics in London.
The Welsh FA are opposed to a British football team but the Liverpool striker says that it would be a 'great honour' for any of his countrymen to play in the side. Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey have both been pictured in Team GB supporters' shirts and will be aged 23 or under next summer, thus falling into the criteria for Olympic football selection.
Bellamy has an outside chance of being included in the British squad as one of three players allowed over the age of 23, but says that both Bale and Ramsey deserve selection. 'They are good enough to do it. If they do get the opportunity I for one will back that,' Bellamy told BBC Wales' Sport Wales in an interview to be broadcast on Friday.
'Do I believe one or two players... deserve the chance to represent Great Britain in the Olympics? Of course they do. For me it's a great honour for them.'
'The Argentinians [and] the Brazilians have all taken it seriously. They've all played their top young players. 'I remember seeing [Brazil's] Ronaldo in '96. Your Kanus and [Carlos] Tevezs have won them [Olympic gold medals]. What a great experience it is for that group of young players. 'If we could have one or two involved in it what experience that brings our national team as well. 'If we're trying to qualify off the back of one or two players who have had that experience it will only benefit Welsh football.
'When they come back to Wales the highlights and experience of going through that and what they then have to give to the Welsh national team, it will only benefit.'
Bellamy, 32, also dismissed the idea that Wales could lose their status as an independent nation under FIFA by taking part in a British team next summer. And the former Manchester City and Newcastle ace, who has won 66 caps for his national side, thinks that the fuss made by some over Welsh players taking part in London 2012 will blow over soon.
'I can understand the negative reaction towards one or two. For me it will be over and done with within the next couple of weeks or next couple of months.' He added: 'How can we lose our identity? I don't understand it, I don't get it one bit,' said Bellamy. 'There will always be a Welsh national team.'