Newcastle United were told to hand player ‘20-year contract’ amid Man City ‘abuse’ incident

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The former Premier League referee made a fascinating revelation about the one-time Newcastle United favourite.

Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has given a fascinating insight into his relationship with former Newcastle United star Craig Bellamy.

The former Wales international became a popular figure during a three-year stay at St James Park after he was signed by Sir Bobby Robson in a £6.5m deal from Coventry City during the summer of 2001. The jet-heeled striker had a transformative impact on United as his pace and trickery helped Robson’s side make a mockery of predictions of a season of struggle by qualifying for the Champions League with a fourth-placed finish.

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AFP via Getty Images

They went one better 12 months later when they ended the 2002/03 season in third place in the Premier League table and Bellamy wrote his name into Tyneside folklore when he scored a crucial last-minute winner in a 3-2 win at Feyenoord that ensured the Magpies became the first side to recover from losing their first three Champions League group stage fixtures and qualify for the next round.

Bellamy remained at St James Park during the following season as Robson’s side qualified for the UEFA Cup semi-final before a defeat to Marseille ended any hope of landing major silverware. However, both men would depart during the following campaign with Bellamy falling foul of Robson’s successor Graeme Souness before joining Scottish giants Celtic on loan.

A permanent move to Blackburn Rovers was secured during the summer of 2005 and Bellamy’s career would take him to Liverpool, West Ham United and Manchester City before Cardiff City became his final club prior to his retirement in 2014. His move away from Tyneside also meant the striker came into direct contact with Clattenburg, with the lifelong Newcastle supporter unable to officiate Magpies games due to Premier League regulations.

However, the former World Cup Final referee did reveal he gave the Magpies some advice when it came to dealing with the striker and admitted Bellamy was the most difficult player he officiated during his career.

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He told SportBible: “Probably the player I didn’t get on with, he didn’t get on with me and I didn’t get on with him, was Craig Bellamy. Some of it was my fault but what I loved, and I keep saying this to Newcastle United, they should have kept him and just signed him on a 20-year deal.

“Because if he stayed at Newcastle, I wouldn’t have had the chance to referee him and therefore I wouldn’t have crossed paths. But the moment he left Newcastle I started refereeing him when he played for Manchester City. It was my fault, it was my own fault because he abused me in the first-half, I gave him a yellow card.

“Going back to modern day and how things change, I remember at half-time saying to the Man City coaching staff how do you put up with this guy? He was constantly abusing me, it this what he’s like on the training ground? That ended up in the newspapers, so that’s what happened in football. Sometimes you are best not speaking and I ended up sending him off.

“When you watch it, it was a penalty and I cautioned him for diving. He wouldn’t forgive me, he was right, I was wrong, but I got sucked into his way, he was not manipulative, but he was hard work, he was in your ear, not controlling, but he was difficult.”

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