Jude Victor William Bellingham (born 29 June 2003) is an English professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for La Liga club Real Madrid and the England national team. Considered one of the best players in the world, he is known for his technical abilities, vision and finishing.[4][5][6] In 2023, he won both major awards for male footballers aged under 21: the Golden Boy, for nominees playing in Europe over the last calendar year,[7] and the Kopa Trophy, for the world's best over the previous season.[8][9]

Jude Bellingham
Bellingham at the Laureus World Sports Awards in 2024
Personal information
Full name Jude Victor William Bellingham
Date of birth (2003-06-29) 29 June 2003 (age 20)
Place of birth Stourbridge, England
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.86 m)[1]
Position(s) Midfielder[2]
Team information
Current team
Real Madrid
Number 5
Youth career
Stourbridge Juniors
2010–2019 Birmingham City[3]
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2019–2020 Birmingham City 41 (4)
2020–2023 Borussia Dortmund 92 (12)
2023– Real Madrid 28 (19)
International career
2016–2018 England U15 8 (1)
2018–2019 England U16 11 (4)
2019 England U17 3 (2)
2020 England U21 4 (1)
2020– England 30 (4)
Medal record
Men's football
Representing  England
UEFA European Championship
Runner-up 2020
*Club domestic league appearances and goals, correct as of 20:56, 25 May 2024 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals, correct as of 20:56, 16 June 2024 (UTC)

Bellingham joined Birmingham City as an under-8, became the club's youngest first-team player when he made his senior debut in August 2019, at the age of 16 years, 38 days, and played regularly during the 2019–20 season. He joined Borussia Dortmund in July 2020, and in his first appearance became their youngest goalscorer. Over three seasons with the club he made 132 appearances and won the 2020–21 DFB-Pokal; his performances in the 2022–23 season helped Dortmund finish as runners-up and earned him the Bundesliga Player of the Season award. In 2023, Bellingham signed for Real Madrid for a fee of €103 million, and in his first season, was the club's top league scorer, helped them win the league title and the Champions League, and was voted La Liga Player of the Season.[10]

Bellingham represented England at under-15, under-16, under-17 and under-21 levels. He made his first appearance for the senior team in November 2020, and represented the country at UEFA Euro 2020 and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Early life

Jude Victor William Bellingham[11] was born on 29 June 2003[2] in Stourbridge, in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley, West Midlands,[12] the eldest son of Denise and Mark Bellingham.[13][14] His father Mark was, until 2022, a sergeant in the West Midlands Police, and a prolific goalscorer in non-League football.[15][14][16] Bellingham's younger brother, Jobe, is also a footballer.[17] Bellingham attended Priory School in Edgbaston, Birmingham.[18] He grew up idolising Zinedine Zidane.[19]

Club career

Birmingham City

Bellingham joined Birmingham City as an under-8,[12] after playing for Stourbridge Juniors.[20] He played for their under-18 team at 14,[17] and made his debut for their under-23 team at the age of 15, on 15 October 2018 away to Nottingham Forest's U23s. Entering the game after an hour, he scored the only goal in the 87th minute "sliding in to force the ball over the goal line after pressure by Kyle McFarlane on the keeper diverted the ball into his path."[21] By March 2019, he had three goals from ten development squad appearances,[22] had featured in FourFourTwo's list of the "50 most exciting teenagers in English football",[23] and was mentioned as of interest to major European clubs.[22][24] He was gradually introduced to the first-team environment while still a schoolboy: increasingly training with the seniors, he accompanied them on matchday to observe,[17] and travelled as the "19th man" for a Championship match in March.[22]

Bellingham took up a two-year scholarship with Birmingham City to begin in July 2019.[25] He was part of the first-team training camp in Portugal,[26] played and scored in pre-season friendlies,[27] and was given squad number 22 for the 2019–20 season.[28] On 6 August, when he started the EFL Cup first round visit to Portsmouth, Bellingham became the youngest first-team player in Birmingham City's history. At 16 years, 38 days, he lowered the record set by Trevor Francis in 1970 by 101 days.[12] He played for 80 minutes in the 3–0 defeat, and was the Birmingham Mail's man of the match.[29] He made his first Football League appearance 19 days later, as a second-half substitute in a 3–0 defeat away to Swansea City,[30] and his home debut on 31 August against Stoke City. Replacing the injured Jefferson Montero after half an hour, Bellingham scored the winner – albeit via a generous deflection – as Birmingham came back from 1–0 down to beat Stoke 2–1, and thus became their youngest goalscorer, aged 16 years, 63 days.[31] He started the next match, away to Charlton Athletic two weeks later, and scored the only goal from Kerim Mrabti's cutback.[32]

 
Bellingham with Birmingham City in 2019

Bellingham continued as a permanent fixture in the matchday squad, sometimes as a substitute but mainly in the starting eleven.[18] He was eased into the team on the left wing, moved into central midfield "where he could gain more confidence", and then used "in a more advanced role" once the staff were sure he could cope with the responsibility.[18] He was EFL Young Player of the Month for November 2019.[14] According to head coach Pep Clotet, Bellingham himself "feels more comfortable in midfield, and more comfortable when he can get closer to the opposition box."[33]

Bellingham was linked with moves to numerous major clubs in January 2020;[34] on deadline day, Birmingham were reported to have turned down a £20 million bid from Manchester United.[35] Bellingham continued as a first-team regular, and by the time the season was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he had made 32 league appearances. He remained an integral part of the team once the season resumed behind closed doors,[30] and set up a late equaliser for Lukas Jutkiewicz against Charlton Athletic that made Birmingham's league position less precarious with two matches still to play.[36] He finished the season with four goals from 44 appearances in all competitions, 41 in the league, as Birmingham avoided relegation despite losing the last match of the season.[30][37] In appreciation of what Bellingham achieved in such a short time with the first team, the club announced that they would retire his number 22 shirt, "to remember one of our own and to inspire others."[38] At the EFL Awards, he was named both Championship Apprentice of the Year and EFL Young Player of the Season.[39]

Borussia Dortmund

2020–2021: Transfer and record-breaking achievements

It was clear that Bellingham would leave Birmingham, and it was reported that he and his father had visited several major clubs, of which Manchester United and Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund were the favourites.[40] Impressed by Dortmund's record of including young players as regulars in the first team, as evidenced by the likes of Jadon Sancho, Bellingham reportedly settled on the club as his destination of choice. He flew to Germany for a medical, and the transfer was confirmed on 20 July 2020. Bellingham was to join after Birmingham's last match of the season.[40] The undisclosed fee was understood by Sky Sports to be an initial £25 million – making him the most expensive 17-year-old in history – plus "several million more" dependent on performance-related criteria.[40]

Bellingham made his debut on 14 September 2020, starting the first match of the 2020–21 season against third-tier MSV Duisburg in the DFB-Pokal, aged 17 years, 77 days. After half an hour, he scored the second goal in a 5–0 win, becoming the club's youngest goalscorer in the DFB-Pokal, taking six days off Giovanni Reyna's record, as well as their youngest scorer in any competitive match, breaking Nuri Şahin's record by five days.[41] Five days later, he marked his league debut with the assist for Reyna's opening goal in a 3–0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach,[42] and was named as Bundesliga Rookie of the Month for September.[43] When Bellingham faced Lazio in the group stage on 20 October, aged 17 years and 113 days, he became the youngest Englishman to start a UEFA Champions League match, breaking the record previously set by Phil Foden.[44]

 
Bellingham playing for Borussia Dortmund in 2020

In the first three months of the season, Bellingham was a regular in all competitions, with six starts and seven substitute appearances in the Bundesliga as well as four Champions League starts.[2] He missed the first two matches of 2021 with a foot injury,[45] but returned to action as an increasingly regular starter.[2] He scored his first Champions League goal in the quarter-final against Manchester City early in the second leg, but Dortmund could not retain their away-goal advantage.[46] In between, Bellingham scored his first Bundesliga goal from Reyna's knock-down to equalise with VfB Stuttgart early in the second half; Dortmund won 3–2.[47] Bellingham started for Dortmund in their 4–1 victory over RB Leipzig in the 2021 DFB-Pokal final. He was booked in the first half and replaced by Thorgan Hazard at half-time with his team 3–0 ahead.[48] He finished the season with 29 appearances and one goal in the Bundesliga, 46 appearances and four goals in all competitions,[2] and was voted Newcomer of the Season by his fellow players.[49] Bellingham was runner-up to Pedri of Barcelona in the 2021 Kopa Trophy, awarded to the world's best under-21 male player as voted by previous winners of the Ballon d'Or.[50][9]

2021–2023: Bundesliga Player of the Season and league runner-up

On 4 December 2021, Bellingham played in Der Klassiker against Bayern Munich. He made the assists for both Dortmund goals,[51] but Bayern won the match 3–2 via a 77th-minute penalty awarded after lengthy VAR involvement. Earlier in the fixture, two Dortmund penalty appeals were turned down by referee Felix Zwayer, who refused to review either.[52][53] Interviewed live by Viaplay immediately after the match, Bellingham was critical of Zwayer's decisions, and made reference to his part in the 2005 German football match-fixing scandal, saying: "You give a referee, that has match fixed before, the biggest game in Germany. What do you expect?"[54] The German Football Association (DFB) wrote to Bellingham asking for his comments as a matter of urgency,[54] and he was fined €40,000.[55]

On 22 October 2022, Bellingham scored twice in a 5–0 defeat of Stuttgart that put Borussia Dortmund into the top four; his first opened the scoring from a rapid attack that he both started and finished, his second was a skilfully curved shot early in the second half.[56] On the final day of the Bundesliga season, Dortmund needed to beat Mainz 05 to ensure the league title. Bellingham was on the bench because of an injured knee, and remained unused. Dortmund managed to draw after falling 2–0 behind, but Bayern Munich's 89th-minute winner against 1. FC Köln was enough to put them ahead on goal difference. After the match, a tearful Bellingham pushed cameras away as he left the field.[57][58] His performances earned him the Bundesliga Player of the Season award.[59] Having finished as runner-up two years prior, Bellingham won the Kopa Trophy in 2023 in recognition of his performances over the 2022–23 season for Dortmund and for England in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He became the first Englishman to receive the award, which was presented at the 2023 Ballon d'Or ceremony in October.[8] He placed 18th in the Ballon d'Or voting.[8]

Real Madrid

On 14 June 2023, Real Madrid announced the signing of Bellingham on a six-year contract.[60] Borussia Dortmund would receive a base transfer fee of €103 million with potential to rise by 30% to approximately €133.9 million due to add-ons,[61] from which a sell-on clause would earn Birmingham City around £6 million.[62] He became the sixth Englishman to join Real Madrid in the professional era.[63][A]

2023–24: Debut season and goalscoring records

On 12 August 2023, Bellingham marked his debut with a close-range half-volleyed goal from a corner kick in a 2–0 La Liga win away to Athletic Bilbao.[64] Two goals and an assist for Vinícius Júnior in a 3–1 victory at Almería[65] and the winner at Celta Vigo in the two remaining August matches made him the league's top scorer and the first English recipient of the La Liga Player of the Month award.[66] A 95th-minute winner against Getafe on 2 September in his first match at the newly renovated Santiago Bernabéu made Bellingham the third player (after Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2009–10 season and Pepillo in 1959–60) to score in each of his first four competitive appearances for the club.[67] Bellingham scored 10 goals in his first 10 matches for Madrid, equalling Cristiano Ronaldo's goal tally after his first 10 games for the club in 2009.[68] On 28 October, Bellingham scored a brace, including a stoppage-time winner, to secure Real Madrid a 2–1 away win against their rivals Barcelona, making him the first Real Madrid player to score in their La Liga and Champions League debuts for the club and in El Clásico.[69] His first goal, scored from 30 yards (27 m)[70] was his club's 300th in El Clásico and made him the first Englishman to score in that fixture since Michael Owen in 2005.[71] Bellingham set several records with these goals.[B] His coach Carlo Ancelotti commented: "He seems like a veteran, the goal to level it totally changed the game... Today he was stupendous and shocked everyone with his wonderful goal from the edge of the area."[70] Bellingham was named La Liga Player of the Month for October.[76]

Having received the Kopa Trophy a few weeks earlier,[8] Bellingham was named winner of the Golden Boy for 2023, an award made to the best male under-21 footballer playing in the European top divisions over a calendar year.[7] Bellingham dislocated his left shoulder on 5 November, and returned to action against Cádiz three weeks later only because of an injury crisis at the club. Wearing heavy strapping, he assisted the first goal and scored the third of a 3–0 win, which took Madrid top of the table and his personal total to 14 from his first 15 games, breaking the club record held jointly by Pruden, Alfredo Di Stéfano and Cristiano Ronaldo.[77][78] In a 4–2 victory against Napoli on 29 November, Bellingham became the first player to score in each of his first four Champions League appearances for Real Madrid.[79]

Bellingham scored twice in a 4–0 win over La Liga title race rivals Girona on 10 February 2024.[80] He was sent off for protesting at the end of Real Madrid's 2–2 draw with Valencia at the Mestalla on 2 March after what would have been his winning goal was denied because referee Jesús Gil Manzano had blown the whistle to end the game.[81][82] He scored the winner in added time as Real Madrid won El Clásico 3–2 at home on 21 April;.[83] it was his 21st goal of the season, and made him Madrid's all-time top English scorer, overtaking Cunningham and Beckham.[84] The following day he was named as winner of the 2024 Laureus World Sports Award for Breakthrough of the Year.[85] He concluded his domestic season as Real Madrid's top league scorer with 19 goals and 6 assists as they won the La Liga title, a performance that earned him the La Liga Player of the Season award.[10] Facing his former club Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final, Bellingham produced the assist for Vinícius Júnior to complete a 2–0 win.[86] With four goals, five assists and a passing accuracy of 90.5%, Bellingham was named the UEFA Champions League Young Player of the Season.[87]

International career

Youth career

Bellingham was eligible to play for his native England and also for the Republic of Ireland, for which he qualified via a grandparent.[88] He made his England under-15 debut against Turkey in December 2016.[89] In recognition of his captaining that team during the 2017–18 season, he was presented with a Special Achievement Award at the 2018 Birmingham City Academy awards night.[90] By the end of 2018 he had made his first appearance for the England under-16 team, and went on to feature in eleven games, score four goals, and captain the team.[91][92] He was included in England's under-17 squad for the Syrenka Cup, a friendly tournament held in September 2019 in preparation for the 2020 European Championship qualifiers the following March.[93] He made his debut as a substitute in England's opening match of the tournament, a 5–0 win over Finland in which he scored the third goal,[94] and captained the team in their second fixture, in which they came back from a goal behind to beat Austria 4–2 and qualify for the final. Again, Bellingham scored the third goal.[95] He retained the captaincy for the final, in which England beat hosts Poland on penalties following a 2–2 draw,[96] and was named player of the tournament.[97]

Bellingham received his first call-up to the under-21 squad for European Championship qualifiers against Kosovo and Austria in September 2020.[98] He became the youngest player to appear for England U21 when he came on to replace Tom Davies after 62 minutes of the match against Kosovo on 4 September with England 3–0 ahead, and scored after 85 minutes to complete the 6–0 victory.[99]

Senior career

 
Bellingham playing for England at the 2022 FIFA World Cup

In November 2020, after James Ward-Prowse and Trent Alexander-Arnold withdrew through injury, Bellingham was called up to the England senior squad for the first time.[100] He made his debut in a friendly against the Republic of Ireland at Wembley on 12 November, replacing Mason Mount after 73 minutes of a 3–0 win. At 17 years, 136 days, he became England's third-youngest full international; only Theo Walcott and Wayne Rooney had appeared at a younger age.[101] Bellingham was named in the England squad for the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament, which was delayed until June 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.[102] When he came on as an 82nd-minute substitute in England's opening match, a 1–0 win over Croatia at Wembley on 13 June, aged 17 years and 349 days, he became both the youngest Englishman to play at any major tournament and the youngest of any nationality to play at a European Championship;[103] the latter record was broken by Poland's Kacper Kozłowski just six days later.[104]

Bellingham's first senior international goal, a header from Luke Shaw's cross to open the scoring in England's 6–2 win over Iran in their first game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on 21 November, made him the second youngest scorer for England at a World Cup. He also made the run and pass to Harry Kane who crossed for Raheem Sterling to score England's third goal, and played the through ball from which Callum Wilson set up their sixth for Jack Grealish.[105][106] He followed this up during the last-16 game against Senegal with a run through the defence, assisting Jordan Henderson's goal in the 38th minute, and played a key role in Harry Kane's goal in first-half stoppage time, setting up Phil Foden to make the assist.[107]

He was named in England's 26-man squad for UEFA Euro 2024.[108] On 16 June 2024, Bellingham scored the only goal in England's Euro 2024 opener against Serbia to give his team a 1–0 win, receiving the player of the match award for his performance.[109]

Style of play

Known for his exceptional control of the ball, his physicality and his technical quality, Bellingham is often regarded as one of the best and most well-rounded midfielders in the world.[110][111][112][113][114] He is also known for his versatility and vision.[110][115][114] He is praised for fulfilling multiple positions and his dynamic playing style, playing both exceptional defence and attack, described by The Analyst as a "do-it-all midfielder".[113] His excellent runs and dribbling abilities have also earned him praise, as have his keen ability to quickly transition from defence to attack.[113] An analysis by Andy Smith for the Bundesliga described Bellingham as "the complete package: a dynamic midfielder who can win the ball and drive it forward, hold up possession, resist the press, find gaps in opposition defences, plus assist and score goals".[115] Bellingham has been described by Philipp Lahm as a "complete midfielder", who can "dribble, pass, shoot and has the urge to score", and who is "physical and fearless, holds his ground in challenges and wins the ball".[112] Phil Foden described Bellingham as "one of the most gifted players I've ever seen".[114] Paul Scholes also praised Bellingham in 2023, saying that "I think Jude Bellingham for his age and what he's accomplished so far in his short career, he's better than anything we've seen".[116] He has been compared to Zinedine Zidane.[117][118][119]

Following his move to Madrid in 2023, Bellingham took on a more advanced role in the midfield, often being positioned in the number 10 position as an attacking midfielder, or even as a false 9 or second striker on occasion.[120][121][122] This change in position led to Bellingham adopting a more signficant role in the final third and scoring goals: 10 in his first 10 matches for Madrid.[68][78]

His prodigious talent as a young player has been confirmed by the awards he has won, including the IFFHS World's Best Youth (U20) Player in 2022 and 2023,[123][124] and the Golden Boy award and Kopa Trophy in 2023.[7][8] ESPN rated Bellingham as the number one central midfielder for 2022–23,[125] and 90min rated him as the top central midfielder in 2022.[126]

Career statistics

Club

As of end of 2023–24 season
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League National cup[a] League cup[b] Europe Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Birmingham City 2019–20[30] Championship 41 4 2 0 1 0 44 4
Borussia Dortmund 2020–21[2] Bundesliga 29 1 6 2 10[c] 1 1[d] 0 46 4
2021–22[2] Bundesliga 32 3 3 0 8[e] 3 1[d] 0 44 6
2022–23[2] Bundesliga 31 8 4 2 7[c] 4 42 14
Total 92 12 13 4 25 8 2 0 132 24
Real Madrid 2023–24[2] La Liga 28 19 1 0 11[c] 4 2[f] 0 42 23
Career total 161 35 16 4 1 0 36 12 4 0 218 51
  1. ^ Includes FA Cup, DFB-Pokal, Copa del Rey
  2. ^ Includes EFL Cup
  3. ^ a b c Appearances in UEFA Champions League
  4. ^ a b Appearance in DFL-Supercup
  5. ^ Six appearances and one goal in UEFA Champions League, two appearances and two goals in UEFA Europa League
  6. ^ Appearances in Supercopa de España

International

As of match played 16 June 2024[127]
Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
England 2020 1 0
2021 9 0
2022 12 1
2023 5 1
2024 3 2
Total 30 4
As of match played 16 June 2024
England score listed first, score column indicates score after each Bellingham goal[127]
List of international goals scored by Jude Bellingham
No. Date Venue Cap Opponent Score Result Competition Ref.
1 21 November 2022 Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar 18   Iran 1–0 6–2 2022 FIFA World Cup [128]
2 12 September 2023 Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland 26   Scotland 2–0 3–1 Friendly [129]
3 26 March 2024 Wembley Stadium, London, England 29   Belgium 2–2 2–2 Friendly [130]
4 16 June 2024 Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen, Germany 30   Serbia 1–0 1–0 UEFA Euro 2024 [131]

Honours

 
Bellingham with the 2024 Laureus World Sports Award for Breakthrough of the Year

Borussia Dortmund

Real Madrid

England U17

  • Syrenka Cup: 2019[96]

England

Individual

Notes

  1. ^ The previous five were Laurie Cunningham, Steve McManaman, David Beckham, Michael Owen and Jonathan Woodgate.[63]
  2. ^ Bellingham became the first player to score a brace in his first El Clásico since Pedro Arsuaga in 1947,[72] and the fourth player under 21 years old to score multiple goals in that encounter in La Liga, following Jaime Lazcano in 1930, Arsuaga in 1947 and Lionel Messi in 2007.[73] His ten goals from his first ten league matches exceeded Cristiano Ronaldo's tally of seven for Madrid in 2009,[74] and equalled the most league goals scored in a single season by Zinedine Zidane across an 18-year career.[75] Bellingham's 13 goals from his first 13 games at the club equalled the starts of Cristiano Ronaldo and Alfredo Di Stéfano.[72]

References

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