“Not really,” he told ESPN. “I worked so hard to get here and I work so hard now to keep up with every game I play.”
A year ago, Bellingham struggled to keep his former club Birmingham City – where he made his debut with the first team at 16 – away from relegation to the championship. He was the youngest, but also one of the best players in the second division of English football. Now, after a £ 30m transfer last summer, he starts for one of Europe’s elite clubs, has had a huge impact on the Champions League and is now a senior England International after being handed his debut against last month San Marino.
It’s not just the midfielder’s talent with the ball that impresses, but his maturity as well. Bellingham still looks like a teenager, but he plays and talks like he’s been at this level for years. His assessment of his performance in the 2-1 Champions League Quarter-final first leg loss to Manchester city, in which Dortmund conceded the game winner in the 90th minute Phil Fodenwas an indication of his confidence and his form.
“I’m not bad at football,” he said with a smile. “I wanted to be effective with the ball and evil without it.”
Despite the eventual elimination of Dortmund, he was certainly effective against City. Bellingham had ruled out a goal in the first leg (the “foul” for which he was punished – when he intercepted a stray ball and shot home – on the goalkeeper Ederson seemed particularly pedantic); He also lived up to the “bad” day when his aggressive and intense hunt for the ball helped Dortmund keep City under pressure and unbalanced.
“Jude is a great young player,” Dortmund coach Edin Terzic told ESPN after the game. “How many 17-year-olds in Europe could do that kind of performance? He’s got it all.”
The return leg saw more of it; Bellingham opened the game that night with a breathtaking curling performance that made him Dortmund’s youngest top scorer in the Champions League at just 17 years and 289 days. Unfortunately, Emre Can‘s handball gave Man City an opening when Riyad Mahrez scored from the penalty spot and Foden scored again as the Premier League The chosen champions scored a 2-1 victory (4-2 overall).
Janusz Michallik believes Jude Bellingham and Jamal Musiala are two players to see next season.
Foden may have made a lot of headlines, but Bellingham’s appearances reminded everyone why so many clubs were after him last summer. In fact, he has become just as important to this Dortmund team as Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho.
Bellingham has played more than many other games and has played 40 games in all competitions so far. Despite losing form at the beginning of the season, he has reached a level that has surprised everyone. He had never played abroad and didn’t speak German when he moved, but he has apparently already conquered the Bundesliga. His first goal scored well for the club, however VfB Stuttgart Ten days ago, when his team lost 1-0 in a game that couldn’t afford to lose, it was massive.
The past few weeks have been full of Bellingham moments like this. Maybe we should just listen to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola? City explored the midfielder in Birmingham and although they decided not to make a move, they are now (like any other big club in Europe) thinking about signing him – not this summer but rather the following one.
“Maybe he’s a liar,” said Guardiola after the Champions League second leg about Bellingham. “Maybe he’s not 17 years old. I can’t believe he’s 17 years old. He’s so good for 17 years old, he’s a fantastic player. There was a moment when he didn’t get the ball from central defenders screaming and demanding that the ball mean a lot to him at 17. I spoke to his manager and he told me what you see in these two games is like any training session. “
There is obviously room for improvement, especially his finish, as he should score and create more goals, but he could become the most complete midfielder ever. He’s part of a new generation of midfielders who can do anything, in the form of Paul Pogba. He can play anywhere in midfield, as No. 6, No. 8 or No. 10. He can sit lower, play higher, defend and attack just as easily. But he can also be aggressive.
The race for the top 4 in the Bundesliga is nearing its critical point – Dortmund is fifth; four points behind Eintracht Frankfurt With five rounds remaining – and a spot on the English roster for Euro 2020 this summer – Bellingham has the motivation to end the season as strong as possible.
The teenager is still humble. He interviewed some of the television crews stationed on the Etihad pitch and said with a smile, “They probably all wanted to talk to Erling and not me!”
He might have been right, but he will soon be the main attraction. In his career plan, Dortmund is currently the perfect club to develop and learn, but just like his teammates, he will soon have to take the step up to become one of the best in the world.