(written by Jack Bibb)
In the wake of his stellar Champions League performance against Manchester City, the hype is heating up around Borussia Dortmund starlet Jude Bellingham.
The Englishman’s sublime first-half strike gave BVB a glimmer of semi-final hope until fellow countryman Phil Foden rifled home to seal the tie for City.
Bellingham’s goal crowned him the second-youngest scorer in Champions League knockout history (17 years 289 days) behind Bojan Krkic who achieved the feat for Barcelona in 2008, aged 17 years 218 days.
City boss Pep Guardiola sang the praises of Bellingham post-match saying that “He’s so good for 17-years-old, he’s a fantastic player.”
Bellingham’s meteoric rise to the pinnacle of club football has even lead to him twice being capped at international level for England.
With Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice currently nursing injuries, Bellingham’s name has been thrown into the Three Lions midfield debate.
Regardless of how he features this summer, there is no doubt that Bellingham will be at the heart of England’s midfield- alongside Mason Mount and Foden– for the next decade.
Birmingham born and bread
Bellingham joined Birmingham City as an under eight and quickly progressed through the ranks, making his under 23s debut aged 15.
In an interview with TalkSport, Mike Dodds– Birmingham’s head of academy- revealed how they developed Bellingham into a ‘generational talent.’
Dodds recalled: “He would have been about 13 or 14 and like most boys that age, they want to be a number 10.
“We sat down with him and we said, ‘we think you can do all of it,’ So we came up with, ‘we think you can be a 22.’
“We said we thought he could be a holding midfielder, or a four. We thought he could be a box-to-box, which is an eight and we thought he could be a scorer and a creator, so a 10.”
Bellingham burst onto the scene rocking the number 22 for Birmingham, becoming their youngest ever first-team player (16 years 38 days)- surpassing Trevor Francis’ record set in 1970 (16 years 139 days).
The teenager shone in his breakout season and Manchester United signalled their intent to sign the youngster- even drafting in Sir Alex Ferguson to strike a deal.
However, at the end of the 2019-20 season, Bellingham put pen to paper on a five-year deal with Borussia Dortmund in a deal worth £27 million- making him the most expensive 17-year-old of all-time.
Despite only making 44 appearances for his hometown side, Birmingham retired the number 22 shirt ‘to remember one of our own and to inspire others.’
England’s secret Euro weapon
Having captained England at under 16 and 17 levels, Bellingham was fast-tracked to the under 21 setup where he impressed and earned his spot in Gareth Southgate’s senior setup.
Bellingham made his debut against the Republic of Ireland in November 2020 making him the third-youngest player ever to appear for England- only Theo Walcott and Wayne Rooney have appeared at a younger age.
The youngster has now featured in the past two England squads and looks set to make the squad this summer- especially since UEFA’s announcement that 26-man squads will be permitted at Euro 2020.
Ex-Manchester United midfielder, Roy Keane, heaped the praise on the 17-year-old, touting him as the ‘complete midfielder’
“Bellingham looks like a complete midfielder. He’s still a kid playing regularly in Germany,” Keane told ITV after the San Marino game.
“At 17 he has nice composure, happy to break forward. Very good night’s work.”
Despite having only 62 minutes of international football under his belt, Bellingham’s 42 appearances with Dortmund this season will put him in contention for a starting spot in England’s midfield.
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