Jude Bellingham (r.) is itching to get back at it for Borussia Dortmund, following an impressive World Cup campaign. - © DFL
Jude Bellingham (r.) is itching to get back at it for Borussia Dortmund, following an impressive World Cup campaign. - © DFL
bundesliga

"I can't wait to play in the Bundesliga!" - Borussia Dortmund and England ace Jude Bellingham psyched for restart

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Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham has admitted he “can’t wait” to get back to Bundesliga action after starring for England at the 2022 World Cup.

Bellingham shone as the Three Lions reached the quarter-finals, starting every game and scoring his first senior international goal before being knocked out by eventual runners-up France. The 19-year-old played every minute of all of Dortmund’s 15 league matches before heading off to represent his country, and having recharged his batteries during a three-week break in his home town of Birmingham, he is now raring to go.

“I can’t wait to play in the Bundesliga,” said Bellingham, who will likely return to competitive club action when Dortmund host Augsburg on 22 January for their Matchday 16 fixture. “It’s really difficult when all the other leagues are playing and you see it on TV and think: I can’t wait. After the World Cup, I thought I was mentally and physically exhausted. I said to myself that I wanted peace and quiet for some time. About two weeks later, I could only think, ’No no, I have to go again and get back to work.’”

Watch: Jude Bellingham - made in the Bundesliga

Dortmund return to domestic matters in sixth place, two points off the top four and the coveted UEFA Champions League qualifying places, while leaders Bayern Munich are nine points ahead of Edin Terzic’s side.

Though BVB are one of the rare teams to have taken points off the reigning champions this term, back-to-back losses to Wolfsburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach in the final two league matches of 2022 saw Dortmund slip down the table and left Bellingham pondering what might have been.

“In the Bundesliga, it was a bit frustrating, because I think the main thing we lacked was consistency. We showed that we can beat anyone, but at the same time that we can also lose to anyone, which is really frustrating. With the quality that we have, that shouldn’t be the case. We should be more confident going into a game that we can win it. And that wasn’t the case in the first part of the season,” said Bellingham, who has contributed three goals and two assists to the Die Schwarzgelben’s Bundesliga cause so far.

“We have to find that consistency and balance. But it was also difficult because we had a lot of injuries. The team changed a lot. Players were there, and then they were injured. So you don’t get a feeling for the team and can’t build connections on the pitch, which is really important. There are always things you can talk about improving. You can spend hours on that after the game. I think you should be aware of that during the game to try to change things then and there.”

Despite his youth, Bellingham’s influence within the Dortmund squad is such that he has twice captained the side this season, when the more experienced Marco Reus and Mats Hummels have been sidelined by injury.

"I would have said, ’No chance! Two-and-a-half years is too early. Maybe give me eight years or so’,” replied Bellingham when asked what he would have said if told when he signed from Birmingham City in 2020 that he would be leading the team out so soon.

“But my teammates, the coach and the staff have helped me to develop. I came here as a talented youngster, but I’ve added elements to my game, taken it to the next level. And I think that’s mostly down to them. I put the work in, but they created the conditions to make it happen. They also added a kind of leadership quality to my game, especially during the season under Marco Rose. I’m just learning every year and trying to use whatever experience I’ve had and the experiences of other people I speak to to improve my game. I’m like a sponge and soak up as much as possible.”

Bellingham has had a direct hand in 12 competitive goals for Dortmund so far in 2022/23. - IMAGO/HMB Media/IMAGO/HMB-Media

With nine competitive goals already — including four in five UEFA Champions League appearances — Bellingham has bettered his career-best return for a single season, and the self-motivated teenage prodigy is aware of the significant strides he has made at the Signal Iduna Park.

“I’m a bit more decisive now when I get into the final third. I always think when I’m on the pitch that whether it’s a goal or an assist, I can influence the game. The way I play, my goal is to be effective without those. But when you add that up, it’s much more valuable to the team and affects the bottom line. That’s one thing that’s greatly improved,” he explained to Dortmund’s official website.

Watch: The Bundesliga is back!

“I don’t care much about being a player judged only on the numbers. But it’s proof that I’ve gotten more and more into the penalty area and been more effective. And I would say it’s improved a little bit of everything. However, I still have a long way to go, with all sorts of little things. Defensively, I still think I can position myself better sometimes. I can win back more balls. And even though I’ve started scoring more often now, I still think I can do even better.”