England’s former top official has singled out former Liverpool attacker Craig Bellamy as the one player he had the most difficulty dealing with in all his time as a Premier League, Champions League, Euros, and World Cup referee. It’s an honour that one imagines will give the former Liverpool striker a smile.
“The player that gave me the most grief would have to be Craig Bellamy,” Howard Webb told the Mirror when he was asked about some of the fans, players, and managers who had given him an especially hard time in his years in charge. “I struggled to gain any kind of a rapport with Craig.
“He might have been a great footballer and a lovely kid away from the game but on the pitch he was quick with an opinion and didn’t really listen to yours. There were other players you might think would fall into a similar category—like Joey Barton or Robbie Savage—who would give their opinion but actually enter into some dialogue with you.”
Bellamy rarely spent more than two years at any one club, but as he moved from Newcastle to Blackburn to West Ham to Manchester City to Cardiff and back to Liverpool, he could always be counted on for his abrasive personality on the pitch—and sometimes off it, too, which at times led to trouble with his teammates.
That abrasive, competitive drive that made him so difficult for referees and sometimes even his own coaches and teammates to deal with, though, is what made him so effective as a player no matter where he ended up. And it certainly seems to have helped Howard Webb to remember him.
As for Webb, when it came to fans and managers who gave him the hardest time, Liverpool didn’t make another appearance. Instead it’s rivals Everton who hold both honours, with Webb pointing to Everton fans as the ones that gave him the most abuse and singling out David Moyes as the most difficult manager to deal with.