September 20, 2023, MADRID, MADRID, SPAIN: Jude Bellingham of Real Madrid celebrates a goal during the UEFA Champions League, Group C, football match played between Real Madrid and Union Berlin at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on September 20, 2023, in Madrid, Spain. MADRID SPAIN - ZUMAa181 20230920_zaa_a181_127 Copyright: xOscarxJ.xBarrosox - © IMAGO/Oscar J. Barroso
September 20, 2023, MADRID, MADRID, SPAIN: Jude Bellingham of Real Madrid celebrates a goal during the UEFA Champions League, Group C, football match played between Real Madrid and Union Berlin at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on September 20, 2023, in Madrid, Spain. MADRID SPAIN - ZUMAa181 20230920_zaa_a181_127 Copyright: xOscarxJ.xBarrosox - © IMAGO/Oscar J. Barroso

Jude Bellingham: Who is the England and ex-Borussia Dortmund midfielder?


Jude Bellingham's first season at Real Madrid has been phenomenal after his blockbuster move from Borussia Dortmund and now he's facing his old side at Wembley. profiles the midfielder who's set to steal the headlines in the UEFA Champions League final...

How Bellingham became one of the world's best at Dortmund

Jude Bellingham

Age: 20

Club: Real Madrid

Position: Midfielder

Country: England (29 caps/three goals)

Key stats

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.

Watch: Jude Bellingham's magical skills

Bellingham in numbers

What a decision that has proved to be. Bellingham made history on his competitive debut for BVB as the youngest goalscorer in DFB Cup history, aged 17 years, two months and 16 days. He then notched an assist on the first of his 29 Bundesliga appearances during 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 again with a wonderful strike against Manchester City. Only Bojan Krkic has scored in a Champions League knockout game at a younger age (17 years and 217 days against Schalke in 2008).

At a tender 17 years and 289 days old, the former Birmingham prodigy joined Youri Tielemans as one of only two players to have reached double figures for appearances in the Champions League before turning 18. He also became the youngest English national and Germany-based player to find the net in the competition.

Records and prizes kept coming the following season. In September 2021, Bellingham became the youngest Englishman to score away in the Champions League, aged 18 years and 78 days, providing a goal and an assist against Besiktas. He won the Bundesliga's Goal of the Month prize in October 2021 for a slaloming run and delightful finish in a win over Arminia Bielefeld, and in February 2022 became the second-youngest player to reach 50 Bundesliga appearances. Nominated for the Golden Boy award for a second year running, the teenager got three league goals and eight assists in 2021/22. 

In 2022/23 he recorded eight goals and four assists and also became the Bundesliga's youngest-ever captain on October 1 as he helped lead BVB's title charge that fell just short on the final day of the campaign. Such performances saw him named the Bundesliga Player of the Season, and he was crowned the Kopa Trophy winner ahead of Bayern Munich star and childhood friend Jamal Musiala.

Watch: Jude Bellingham's world-beating season

Days before his 100th competitive appearance for Dortmund, Bellingham scored his fourth Champions League goal, the most ever by an English teenager in the competition, in a 2-1 loss to Man City. It was his 18th appearance in the Champions League, also a tournament record among Englishmen under 20. With a further four efforts in the 2022/23 group stage, he ranks as the youngest from his country to reach five tournament goals. He departed Dortmund with 132 appearances under his belt for the club.

Bellingham's blindingly bright start to life at the Signal Iduna Park didn't gone unnoticed by England head coach Gareth Southgate, who handed him his senior international 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. He also broke Michael Owen's record as the greenest player to represent England at a major tournament, aged 17 years and 349 days, as well as the tournament record for the youngest quarter-finalist, four days after turning 18.

Later, in Qatar, his sensational World Cup debut goal against Iran yielded another milestone - only Owen scored at a younger age at the finals. Joining Real Madrid the following summer, Bellingham - a player never previously relied upon for goals - couldn't stop scoring in place of Karim Benzema. In November an effort against Cadiz made him the first Madrid star to score 14 times in his first 15 games, breaking the previous record of 14 held by Cristiano Ronaldo, Alfredo Di Stefano and Pruden Sanchez.

Bellingham ended his domestic debut season in Spain with not only a Supercopa de España, but also his first league title, winning La Liga on May 4th with four games to spare. Ahead of facing Dortmind in the Champions League final, Bellingham's 2023/24 record stands at a career-best 23 goals and 12 assists in all competitions.

Watch: Farewell, Jude Bellingham!

Plays a bit like: Zinedine Zidane

Before moving to Spain, Bellingham's career-long shirt number was 22, with a youth team coach explaining that the number signified the fact he could play as a no.10, no.8 and no.4, which equals 22. We hadn't seen so much of Bellingham as a 10, or attacking midfield playmaker, but that all changed when he swapped to the no.5 at Real Madrid. 

Making the switch in part due to president Florentino Perez prefering his stars to fill up traditional numbers, it was also because his father Mark used to train in the Madrid no.5 of footballing icon Zinedine Zidane. What Bellingham perhaps wasn't aware of when he took the shirt was how quickly he'd start replicating the legendary Frenchman.

Filling the space between Madrid's midfield and attack, Bellingham began replicating Zidane's famous runs from midfield and iconic finishes. His first of two in a Clasico win over Barcelona in October was one the Frenchman would have been proud of, and with his long sleeves and rangey legs making him unplayable as he reaches the opponent's box, it's easy to see why he's now being compared to 'Zizou'.

Did you know?

Bellingham's father and agent Mark was not a bad footballer himself. A prolific goalscorer in English non-league football, Bellingham Sr. recorded more than 700 goals during a playing career that spanned over 20 years. Jude’s younger brother Jobe, meanwhile, is on the books of Sunderland.

What they're saying

“There are things about the way he plays that remind me of Zidane, it's his extraordinary quality on the ball. Zidane may have been even better technically but Bellingham combines it with how he gets into the box." - Madrid coach Ancelotti

“As for Bellingham as a player, I can say that he is one of the greatest midfield talents in the world. And that at a young age! At just 20, he leads the team, doesn’t hide and already decides games with his style of play," - former Bayern and current Madrid star David Alaba

“If Bellingham continues like this, he could become the greatest English footballer of all time. He’s exceptionally talented and has a brilliant temperament. He always anticipates what is going to happen next," - Manchester United and England great Gary Neville

“I saw it in the Italy game when England went 1-0 down and you sensed the crowd was starting to turn. It is when you see teams disappear in stadiums, but Jude went on a press and it lifted the whole crowd. Then he played a through ball and it lifted the crowd again. That is why I compared him to Messi - only a small number of players can do that and I don’t know how he has learned that at the age that he is,” - England great Joe Cole

"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 back in April 2021

"I like him very much. He is a box-to-box player, that old-school profile. I love everything about Bellingham... The way he plays, the way he brings himself into the game, shows so much maturity." - Jose Mourinho

"I don't think we could have predicted how quickly Bellingham could mature. In the last five months that has gone to another level." - Southgate at the 2022 World Cup