Jude Bellingham’s Euros call up for England is another fine highlight in his meteoric rise… the humble teen’s story is one of loyalty and dedication, and after starring in Birmingham and Dortmund, he is now sure to shine on the biggest stage of them all
- Jude Bellingham has been named in England’s squad for Euro 2020 this summer
- Borussia Dortmund sensation Bellingham has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top
- His tournament debut for England will be another chapter in his fledgling career
- Bellingham made a name for himself at Birmingham before moving to Dortmund
- Still just a teenager, Bellingham is the youngest star of the Three Lions’ group
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here.
Jude Bellingham will have been waiting eagerly by the phone to officially hear the confirmation from Gareth Southgate that he has been named in England’s squad for Euro 2020.
There was joy, of course, but first there was a process. After all, Three Lions boss Southgate will have to have spoken to Bellingham’s father, Mark, because the teenage sensation is still so young.
You wouldn’t ever believe it when watching him in action on the field, but Bellingham is just 17 years of age. He doesn’t turn 18 until around halfway through the tournament this summer, although he is set for a big role under the glare of a nation.
Jude Bellingham has enjoyed a meteoric rise in his career and is winning trophies at Dortmund
Bellingham began his journey at Birmingham and is one of world football’s hottest properties
Southgate officially axed his ranks down to name the final 26 players on Tuesday afternoon, and there was never really any doubt that Borussia Dortmund prodigy Bellingham would be safe from the culling.
His story is one every budding talent will look to follow during their own fledgling days, but don’t think for a second that Bellingham will stop here. There is only one direction his career is headed, and that’s into the stratosphere.
To get the true measure of the man, though, it would be wise to take a look at his humble beginnings back in Birmingham, and the undying affection and loyalty from the family that has supported him through every step.
Bellingham, now aged 17, has come a long way from playing football during his school days
His mother Denise posted a touching message on Twitter after Dortmund won the DFB-Pokal
Right from the very start, Birmingham knew they had a special player on their hands. Former coach Gary Rowett recalled chatting to Bellingham when he was 12 and underlining just how appreciated he was at the club.
Behind the scenes, it is said that ‘every single’ top club in Europe were interested in poaching him for their own academies, but Bellingham’s humility and wise nature kept him on the right path.
The distractions offered by taking up a move elsewhere may have derailed his promise, but there was never any danger of that. Hailed on a daily basis by those around him, Bellingham worked his way through the ranks at Birmingham.
He would combine his training with studying at Priory School in the city, and earned around £145 a week as a schoolboy at the club. His family made the move across to Bromsgrove, allowing Bellingham to attend school in the Edgbaston area.
Bellingham shared a photo of himself as a youngster alongside all-time great Trevor Francis
Birmingham held close links with the school, allowing Bellingham to find the perfect blend of furthering himself on and off the pitch. It is said that his progress in football was so staggering that the club weighed up him up for the first-team as a schoolboy.
Xuandong Ren, the former chief executive at St Andrew’s, was also known to keep a close eye on Bellingham’s development, and at every turn there would be someone in the know waxing lyrical about his drive and potential.
His keen interest in immersing himself wholly in the sport likely stretches back to his family. His father, who oversees his career, scored over 700 goals for various teams in non-league while working as a police officer.
Likely taking in Mark’s clinical performances with wide eyes, Bellingham took his first steps over the white line and hasn’t looked back. His younger brother, Jobe, is also dreaming big and making waves in Birmingham’s academy.
Having quickly made a name for himself in Birmingham’s academy, his rise to the top was rapid
Bellingham is pictured here alongside his family signing his scholarship deal with Birmingham
Admittedly, talent is not everything. Players need more than just raw ability to make it big in football, and as it turned out, Bellingham had everything he needed as soon as he entered the pre-academy programme aged seven.
Kristjaan Speakman, Birmingham’s former academy manager, revealed all to BBC Sport on Bellingham’s incredible knack of engaging his brain and using the challenges around him on his road to stardom.
‘As Jude moved into the Under 12s group, it was becoming more and more noticeable how his learning was accelerating, how he was picking things up very quickly and how he was impacting training sessions and games,’ Speakman said.
‘He has always managed to cope with playing in a higher age group partly because he is such an intelligent player.’
After being moved into the senior set-up, Bellingham made a name for himself at St Andrew’s
His time spent cutting his teeth around boys bigger than him would have been ideal preparation for his emergence on to the international scene. At 13, while still a school pupil, Bellingham turned out for England at Under 15s level.
After making his debut against Turkey at St George’s Park, England’s training base, Bellingham then wrote a diary to recount the occasion for his school’s website.
He continued to work his way through Birmingham’s youth system as the years passed by, and went on to study sociology at A-level during his spare time away from the exhausting rigours of football.
A conscientious and bright young man, Bellingham also attended mental health workshops as part of his academic schedule.
Bellingham is widely known as an intelligent and selfless person away from the football field
With so much surely occupying his mind, it would have been easy for him to slip inside his own head and become solely focused on his own journey. Instead, he extended a helping hand to others, including those who look up to him.
‘He hasn’t played in the FA Youth Cup this season but he was in the changing room celebrating with the players when they got through some of the earlier rounds,’ Speakman added in his chat with the BBC.
‘That’s the type of kid he is. He’s always willing to help and support the younger boys.
‘For many of the kids in our system, he’s a role model, which is difficult for a boy of such a young age to cope with. At the minute, he’s coping admirably with all of those pressures.’
Dortmund were able to sign him up ahead of a host of rivals and eased him into being a key star
His quality has improved, and so have his earnings. It is believed Bellingham banks £50,000-per-week at Dortmund – but beneath the cold, hard figures, he is still the same person who dazzled his way to the top in Birmingham.
The legacy he has left behind there will never be forgotten, either. There is a mural on Cattell Road, near St Andrew’s, that pays homage to two players forever etched into the history of the club.
Alongside the great Trevor Francis is the face of Bellingham, the youngest player ever to have pulled on that famous blue shirt. He first announced himself there aged 16 years and 38 days.
It didn’t take long for the world’s biggest clubs to start showing interest again, just like they had done just a few years before. Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Chelsea are all believed to have courted him.
A mural (pictured here) close to Birmingham’s St Andrew’s stadium pays tribute to Bellingham
In the end, it was Dortmund who came out on top. Having guaranteed him game time and a shot at glory in the same vein as Jadon Sancho, Bellingham chose them and jetted out to Germany.
United gave him the full works with the race still open, having shown the target around their Carrington training complex and immersed him in their rich history with Sir Alex Ferguson. But still, it was not enough.
Bellingham became the most expensive 17-year-old in the history of football when his transfer to Dortmund was made official. Birmingham bid him a fond farewell, and even retired their No 22 shirt, the jersey Bellingham made his own, out of respect.
Just 44 senior appearances into his career, Bellingham left the UK on a private jet bound for Germany. Dortmund pulled out all the stops to divert the media, with four cars waiting on the other side for the plane to arrive.
Bellingham became the most expensive 17-year-old in football history for his Dortmund switch
His mother, Denise, moved with him to Westphalia, and they both are said to live in an apartment a stone’s throw away from Dortmund’s training ground. Their district in the city is upmarket and a very welcome home.
Keen to hit the ground running, Bellingham got to work learning the language. Throughout pre-season, he would study for three lessons a week, and is now able to understand most of what he is told at the club.
Jadon Sancho, Gio Reyna and Erling Haaland are Bellingham’s closest friends in the squad, all of whom speak fluent English and have helped their team-mate to settle in.
It didn’t take long for Bellingham to adapt to his new surroundings. Having taken to life in Germany well, the starlet has even developed a liking for Schnitzel – a thin slice of meat fried in fat, which is also a national delicacy.
Jadon Sancho (right) and other English speakers at Dortmund helped Bellingham to settle in
Bellingham is unable to drive himself to training, meaning that he is taken to the complex everyday by a member of his family.
Slowly but surely, Bellingham began to impress at the club, who were careful in the early knockings of the season to manage his game time. Now, he has flourished into one of their standout performers.
The star was born in their Champions League tie against Manchester City in April. Bellingham netted the first goal in the second leg with composure beyond his years, and with it became the club’s youngest ever goalscorer.
He hasn’t been able to stop making history. Having been introduced as a substitute for England against the Republic of Ireland last November, Bellingham was named as the Three Lions’ third-youngest Three Lions player ever.
Bellingham became the third-youngest ever England player against the Republic of Ireland
But despite shattering records and becoming a household name, he has ensured that both his feet remain firmly planted on the ground. Bellingham works heavily with charities and looks to use football as a vessel to improve the lives of others.
As such, he made a donation to help finish the building of a school in Kenya. Working as an ambassador of the Mustard Seed Project, Bellingham helped a six-year project come to fruition with over 300 children benefitting from education.
He has also helped to support the Mgongeni community football team along with the charity, and they have teamed up with Adidas for their blue kits.
With Bellingham called up for Euro 2020, the starlet will be hoping for a memorable summer
BELLINGHAM’S CAREER SO FAR
Birmingham City (2010-2019)
Birmingham City (2019-20) – 44 apps, four goals
Borussia Dortmund (2020-) – 46 apps, four goals
England (2020-) – 2 apps, 0 goals
An interview between Bellingham and League Football Education over supplying the team reveals everything about his character and selflessness, two characteristics that have endeared him to his colleagues and friends.
‘I saw a picture [of the football team] and it gave me a great feeling seeing how happy they were and knowing how much it will help them going forward,’ he said.
‘The more attention I get from doing good things on the pitch, hopefully that will crossover to the charity, so it’s definitely at the back of my mind as a driving factor for me to keep working hard and performing well so that the charity can benefit too.
‘I’m really eager to get out there at some point as well to see what I can do directly to help. I want to be remembered, not just for football but for my actions off the pitch.’
He most certainly will be, there’s no doubting that. But first, he’ll be looking to further underline his credentials as one of world football’s hottest properties by helping England to some much-needed success this summer.
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