Gianfranco Zola believes confronting the fire of the former Toon striker made him a better manager.
The Hammers boss must find a way to counter the pace of Bellamy on Monday night when his side meet Manchester City at Eastlands.
Zola: "I loved working with him because he tested me a lot. He has such a fire inside and it can be hard, but if you approach him in the right way he can give you a lot of satisfaction.
"He is a person you have to listen to for the second thing he says, because the first thing sometimes can be hard.
"He is honest and is not worried about telling somebody they are doing something wrong. Even to the manager.
"He said 'Are you threatening me?' recalls Zola. "And I said 'No I'm not threatening you.'
"From then it was the break point. After that we respected each other and everything went well. I always listened to his opinion and he always listened to my advice.
"Everybody knows Bellamy. We respect him for what he is and know not to take it in a bad way sometimes when he has a go at somebody.
"At the beginning you might not like it (his honesty). But if you know that person is doing it for the good of the team you take it and it can be helpful. Sometimes it can be worse if you don't say anything.
"Sometimes it is better if someone talks even if he is hard in what he says."