“He’s a fantastic player,” England’s star striker Harry Kane praised his team-mate Jude Bellingham after the round of 16 defeat of Senegal. “He’s doing everything so well. He’s very mature for his age and has great leadership qualities.” Kane was named “Man of the Match” after his first goal at the World Cup in Qatar, but the main focus was on the hymn of praise for the actual match winner of the game against the Africa Cup of Nations winner.
Bellingham was very present as an attacking midfielder in the 76 minutes before he was substituted at a score of 3-0. The midfielder from Borussia Dortmund also opened up space at the back, was almost always correct, won a lot of balls and initiated dangerous attacks. He prepared the first two goals by Jordan Henderson and Kane.
“Star of the Show” and “Best in the World”
Bellingham, who was not trained at one of the big Premier League clubs but at Birmingham City, has been playing for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga since July 2020. In these two and a half years he has developed from a 17-year-old top talent at the German top club to a leading figure in midfield, and in recent months also in England’s national team. Bellingham was there for the “Three Lions” at last year’s European Championships, but mostly just sat on the bench. At the World Cup in Qatar he has been on the pitch in all games so far and increasingly took control of the game. “He will continue to learn and improve,” predicted captain Harry Kane, who is around ten years his senior, after the Senegal game.
At home, too, the media and experts praised the 19-year-old after the Senegal game. The “Sun” made Bellingham the “Star of the Show”. Manchester United legend Roy Keane called him the upcoming “superstar” and former England striker Gary Lineker gushed on Twitter: “He’s amazing, he’s the leader of the team. His parents must be so proud of him, I love him .” Team-mate Phil Foden has also been full of praise for Bellingham recently: “He has no weaknesses in his game. I think he can become the best midfielder in the world.”
Bellingham himself remained humble, pointing out that he was just one of many who had contributed to the success. “Everyone played a tremendous role, everyone showed so much quality, temperament, character,” he told Qatari broadcaster beIN SPORTS.
Borussia Dortmund before winning millions
In Dortmund you can count yourself lucky with Bellingham’s development, after all the around 25 million euros that were transferred to Birmingham in the summer of 2020 are a bargain in retrospect. At “transfermarkt.de” the market value of the teenager is currently estimated at around 100 million euros, although this number already seems outdated. Certainly there are clubs that would be willing to pay (much) more for Bellingham’s services. Allegedly, Borussia Dortmund is not planning to let his jewel go for less than 150 million anyway. Bellingham’s contract with BVB runs until 2025 – which is also a fortunate circumstance for Dortmund, because the longer the term, the higher the transfer fee.
Important reference persons: Jude Bellingham (2nd from left) with mother Denise, brother Jobe and father Mark (from left to right)
Nevertheless, only the least can imagine that Bellingham will stay in the Bundesliga for a long time – there is even speculation about a farewell in the coming winter break. Liverpool, the two clubs from Manchester, Chelsea, but also Paris St. Germain, Real Madrid and some Italian top clubs – basically the entire top floor of European football is queuing for a Bellingham commitment. “I won’t hide it, everyone wants Bellingham,” admitted PSG boss Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who, however, is probably fighting a lost battle for the 19-year-old. “What a player. His first World Cup and so calm, relaxed and confident. Amazing.”
Allegedly, the talks with Liverpool FC are already very advanced. If Bellingham and his management – consisting of father Mark, mother Denise and advisor Mark Bennett – are considering which career step might be the right one, he doesn’t show it on or off the pitch.
Duel with Mbappé a “pleasure”
Nothing seems to bother him. After winning the World Cup round of 16, Bellingham took beaming selfies with his family in the stands. He also found time to support his teammate Jordan Henderson, because the judgment of some fans had previously seemed too harsh. “Show him some respect!” he demanded on social media and posted four photos of himself and the Liverpool FC captain.
The most important thing for Bellingham is the upcoming task at the World Cup: the quarterfinals against world champions France (Saturday 8pm CET). “I think we’re getting to the point where we’re like, ‘We can beat anyone,'” Bellingham said before the match. Competing with Kylian Mbappé, who was only seven weeks older than Bellingham now when he won the Équipe Tricolore world title in 2018, will be “a pleasure”.
“Ultimately, I’m just a Jew”
However, it could be that the two don’t get into each other’s enclosures that often on the lawn. Finally, as in the last group game against Wales in the English system, Bellingham no longer played defensively in front of the back line against Senegal, but took on a more offensive role. Since he has more than proven himself in his new role as playmaker, a repeat against France most likely. The reason for his push forward was the inclusion of the more defensively oriented Jordan Henderson in the starting XI. And maybe the good interaction with the Liverpool captain in the national team is another reason why Bellingham will soon be happy to swap his black and yellow jersey for a red one.
Whenever and wherever Jude Bellingham’s journey continues, it’s safe to assume that the young star will keep his feet on the ground, despite his outstanding performances and a potential transfer fee in the hundreds of millions. So far, at least, he has managed to do so despite his meteoric rise: “Ultimately, I’m just a Jew,” he said in the “BVB Podcast” in July. “I went to school like everyone else, grew up like everyone else. I’m not better than everyone else just because I kick a ball.”