Cardiff City forward Craig Bellamy welcomes the challenge of attempting to conquer Liverpool, his former club and an institution from which the Welshman learned a set of core values for life.

The fiery and passionate character enjoyed two spells with the Reds, first signing for the side he has always supported in 2006 before being handed the opportunity to return in the summer of 2011.

As a fan and a player, Bellamy soaked up the rich history and tradition surrounding Liverpool, not least the inestimable contribution of Bill Shankly and the foundations that were laid down by the Scot.

With his current team, Cardiff, preparing to host Brendan Rodgers' charges in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday, the 34-year-old has spoken at length about his continuing appreciation for the Reds.

"I'm proud of the club I support, I really am," he enthused to in an exclusive interview ahead of the encounter in Wales.

"A lot of my beliefs in football and life are what Bill Shankly led, how he conducted the club and changed the club. He was years ahead of his time.

"The way Liverpool run and how they are as a football club - the professionalism, how they look to the fans and how they treat people - is something I'm really proud to be associated with. I'm proud to support them.

"For a club like us [Cardiff], that's the challenge. That's why Saturday is so exciting. This is a big challenge for Liverpool as well, coming to us after the form they have been in and the great result they had.

"This is a really big challenge for them coming to us. We're fighting for our lives and Liverpool are fighting towards the championship."

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A glance at the Premier League table shows Liverpool in second place ahead of the weekend action, with Rodgers' outfit trailing leaders Chelsea by four points with a fixture in hand.

Five successive league victories have been achieved - including wins over Arsenal and, most recently, Manchester United - and Bellamy ranks the Reds higher than any other team at present.

He knows, however, that a lot of football must be played before any thoughts of a challenge for the championship should creep into people's minds.

"Liverpool are the best team in the league at the moment; that's not just me with my Liverpool head on," added the attacker. "Liverpool are the best team in the league at the moment.

"Can they continue the form they have had for the last couple of months until the end of the season? If they do, they will win the league. If they don't, what's the worst? Get Champions League and push on again.

"This is a really great opportunity for a club like Liverpool and all the fans - myself included. I'm so excited to be a Liverpool fan; I feel it's going to be a great few years for us."