Jude Bellingham is now playing and learning from one of his role models in football, Jadon Sancho, at Borussia Dortmund. - © imago images
Jude Bellingham is now playing and learning from one of his role models in football, Jadon Sancho, at Borussia Dortmund. - © imago images
bundesliga

Jude Bellingham: "Jadon Sancho is very important for me at Borussia Dortmund"

Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham says that Jadon Sancho is very important for him and other young players at the club on and off the pitch, and not just because they come from the same country and speak the same language.

Bellingham's start to life in Dortmund has seen him establish himself as a first-team fixture faster than the club's fans had imagined. The 17-year-old started each of Dortmund's first three Bundesliga games, their DFB Cup first round win and the opening game of BVB's UEFA Champions League group stage campaign, which led to him collecting the Bundesliga's Rookie of the Month award for September.

All of that would usually come as a surprise for a teenager who has just joined one of Europe's elite clubs from England's second tier, but Bellingham skipped taking holiday this summer to join Dortmund early, get to know his new surroundings and new teammates. All in order to have a better chance to do exactly what he has done already.

"It's better when you're there from day one and get to know the lads," Bellingham previously said at Dortmund's summer camp in Switzerland. "It makes no sense to come to a new club and to be quiet and shy. You have to go out and follow your goals."

Another reason Bellingham joined the club early was to get to know one of his idols, Sancho. The winger joined from Manchester City himself back in 2017, aged 17, and has gone on to establish himself as one of world football's next big talents.

What Sancho has accomplished in the Bundesliga with Dortmund speaks volumes to young English players contemplating taking the same step in their career, and now Bellingham has seen first-hand how the London-born trickster works.

Watch: Dortmund's teenage dreamers

"Jadon is really very important for me," Bellingham told Kicker. "Not just because he's from the same country as me or because he speaks the same language. More importantly, it's how he puts his arm around me, but also the other young guys, how he strengthens our belief in our abilities and puts confidence in us.

"He's a huge role model for English players my age. To get advice from him really means a lot to me. That helps me a lot."

For Bellingham, like it was with Sancho, the main appeal to join Dortmund and come to the Bundesliga was the chances young players get. But something the teenager hadn't quite expected was the quality of the league he has joined, which has already come as a surprise after just a few months with his new team.

Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham are the first English players to start a Bundesliga game for the same team in league history. - imago images

"The prospect of playing probably outweighs everything else," Bellingham said. "But even if many might think that the Bundesliga isn't of such high quality because Bayern has dominated it for a number of years, the performance levels here are extremely high. We can compete with some of the best teams and players in the world. That's why the overall package is so attractive.

"But also the club is incredibly attractive. It's size and meaning, the stadium, the fans, the success, and the ambitions. Dortmund have a lot of plans, and to be able to help with that feels massive."

And while Bellingham has gone from playing in the English Championship to the Champions League in the space of one year, as well as being called up to the England U21 team at just 17, the Stourbridge-born box-to-box midfielder knows he has plenty of learning still to do.

With confidence put in him by the club, coach Lucien Favre and the likes of Sancho around him, Bellingham feels in the perfect place to take the next steps in life on and off the pitch.

"I have to work on my game as a whole, tactically as well as technically," Bellingham explained. "But also mentally. I can improve myself in every category, and that's my goal.

"I'd like to be rated like any other player, regardless of whether you're 17, 27 or 37. I'm a professional footballer. And if you're good enough to play, then you're old enough too. You feel that here at BVB."