Borussia Dortmund teenager Jude Bellingham became the youngest player to feature at a UEFA European Championships quarter-final when he came on for England against Ukraine. bundesliga profiles the 18-year-old midfielder EVERYONE is talking about...
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Country: England (six caps)
A Birmingham City fan who joined the club at the age of seven, Bellingham has enjoyed a meteoric rise. He made his senior debut in an English League Cup game against Portsmouth in August 2019, becoming the youngest player ever to feature for the Blues. Aged just 16 years and 38 days, he broke a record set by Trevor Francis 49 years previously. Bellingham then become Birmingham's youngest ever goalscorer at the end of that month – taking another record held by club legend Francis – coming off the bench to net the winner against Stoke City on his home debut. The teenager soon proved his first goal was no fluke by starting and scoring in a win at Charlton Athletic two weeks later.
By the start of March 2020, Bellingham had played 31 league matches in England’s tough-as-nails second-tier Championship, starting 24 games, scoring four goals, and registering two assists. He won the English Football League's Young Player of the Month award for November as a result of his performances, and in summer 2020 became the latest in a long line of teenage stars who see Dortmund as the perfect place to develop.
What a decision that has proved to be. Bellingham made history on his competitive debut for BVB as the greenest goalscorer in DFB Cup history, aged 17 years, two months and 16 days, before notching an assist on his first of 29 Bundesliga appearances over the course of the 2020/21 campaign. When he faced Lazio on 20 October, at 17 years and 113 days, the Stourbridge native became the youngest Englishman to start a UEFA Champions League match, breaking the record previously set by Manchester City's Phil Foden.
Bellingham scored his first ever Bundesliga goal, on his 24th appearance, against VfB Stuttgart. Four days later, he wrote his name into the Champions League history books with a wonderful strike against Man City. A tender 17 years and 289 days old, the former Birmingham prodigy joined Youri Tielemans as one of only two players to have reach double figures for appearances before turning 18. He also became the greenest English national and Germany-based player to find the net in the competition. Only Bojan Krkic has scored in a Champions League knockout game at a younger age (17 years and 217 days against Schalke in 2008).
Watch: A Jude Bellingham highlight reel
Bellingham's blindingly bright start to life at the Signal Iduna Park didn't go unnoticed by England head coach Gareth Southgate, who handed him his senior debut in a November 2020 friendly win over the Republic of Ireland. The Three Lions' third youngest player made his full debut in a Euro 2020 warm-up win against Austria, before etching his name into the annals at the finals. The Dortmund midfielder replaced Harry Kane in the second half of the 1-0 win against Croatia on Matchday 1, briefly usurping the Netherlands' Jetro Willems as the tournament's youngest debutant, whilst breaking Michael Owen's record as the greenest player to represent England at a major tournament, aged 17 years and 349 days. He then set a new Euro record as the greenest quarter-finalist, four days after turning 18.
Plays a bit like: Steven Gerrard
An athletic, box-to-box midfielder, the rangy Bellingham hardly looks like a teenager making his way in a man’s game – in January 2020 then Birmingham boss Pep Clotet even revealed that he had grown 2.4 centimetres since the beginning of the 2019/20 campaign. Bellingham eats up ground – whether in his defensive duties or while supporting the attack – and has proven more than capable of coping with the physical intensity of the Championship.
Having previously captained the England U17 team, he has already played in several positions during his young career. But at the heart of the midfield action – where former Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard thrived – is surely where Bellingham's future lies.
Did you know?
Bellingham's father Mark was not a bad footballer himself. A prolific goalscorer in English non-league football, Bellingham Snr. recorded more than 700 goals during a playing career that spanned over 20 years. Jude’s younger brother Jobe, meanwhile, is also on the books of Birmingham.
What they're saying
"Jude is phenomenal. Just in training in the last couple of days, to have a 17-year-old, who wants to compete with senior players, not only has the technique, but the competitiveness and maturity… he’s a hugely exciting player. He’s going to be an important player for England. We’re not just taking him for the experience." - Southgate on why he called up Bellingham for Euro 2020
"I can only say positive things about Jude. When you consider his age, he's been sensational for us. The England team is full of talent, but when you have a 17-year-old being called up that tells you just how good he is." - former Dortmund interim coach Edin Terzic
"I cannot believe it, maybe he's a liar. He's so good for 17-years-old, he's a fantastic player. There was one moment when he didn't get the ball from central defenders, how he shouts and demands that ball to him at 17 means a lot. I spoke with his manager, Edin [Terzic], and he told me what you see in these two games is like every training session." - Man City coach Pep Guardiola
"I like him very much. He is a box-to-box player, that old-school profile. I love everything about Bellingham. I can’t believe his age, only 17. The way he plays, the way he brings himself into the game, shows so much maturity." - Jose Mourinho
"He has enormous potential, which we want to develop together further in the coming years. He already has astonishing quality with and without the ball, while he also has a strong mentality." – Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc
"He's quiet, very well-grounded, very professional and very mature… It's difficult to say how far he can go when you have such a huge talent like him at such a young age." – Clotet