How Jude Bellingham went from boy wonder to Champions League winner
Posted by  badge Boss on 3 weeks ago
Bellingham signed off a superb season in style at Wembley (Picture: Antonio Villalba/Real Madrid via Getty Images)

The rise of and star continued on Saturday night as he helped Los Blancos win the Champions League again

Bellingham has blossomed into one of the finest players on the planet, a talismanic figure for both club and country at just 20 years old. But that will come as no surprise to former clubs Birmingham City and, who have helped nurture his talent on his footballing journey to the top of the game.

The midfielder, who will be at this summer, has enjoyed a simply sensational first season at Real Madrid, in-keeping with a player who has broken record after record since his first steps in senior football over four years ago.

Sports broadcaster and columnist said: ‘What’s amazing about him at this age – beyond the unbelievable football talent, and the goals he’s managed to score, and the way that he’s had transfers that players with twice his seniority have struggled with – is his physicality and the confidence he shows in everything he does.

‘He’s come in as a galactico and has finished the season the third-highest scorer in LaLiga. That wasn’t the role he was playing at Borussia Dortmund, so it’s been fascinating to see what’s happened with him playing higher up the pitch.

‘I remember when Birmingham retired Bellingham’s shirt they were given a lot of stick. It felt a bit of an overreaction to do that for a teenager who’d made only 44 appearances for the club, but the fans watching him week in week out just wanted to talk to you about what a special player he was. It felt like this was the only way to really express that.

‘It’s been fascinating to see what’s happened with him playing higher up the pitch’ (Picture: Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

‘Of course with the arrival of Kylian Mbappe next season this could change again – and Bellingham has fallen off the pace in terms of goals scored in the last few months. But he can offer so much more than goals, and it is by securing him, not Mbappe, that Real Madrid have elevated their immediate future.’

After his , let’s take a look at Bellingham’s club career and his defining moments to date.

Learning the trade at Birmingham City

Born in Stourbridge in the West Midlands, Bellingham joined Birmingham’s academy as part of the U8 team, eventually progressing to play for the U23s by the age of just 15.

The midfielder became the club’s youngest-ever player when he made his first-team debut, aged 16 years and 38 days, in a Carabao Cup clash with Portsmouth in August 2019.

Bellingham came through Birmingham City’s academy (Picture: Getty)

His winning strike against Stoke at the end of that month then saw him become Birmingham’s youngest-ever goalscorer.

From that point onwards, Bellingham became a mainstay in the starting XI, and his performances for his boyhood club saw him linked with a whole host of big name teams in the January 2020 transfer window.

One of the clubs , who reportedly had a £20m bid turned down for the player on deadline day.

Bellingham’s first, and ultimately only season with Birmingham, saw him finish the campaign with four goals in 44 appearances in all competitions.

After Bellingham left the club to join Borussia Dortmund, in honour of their academy graduate.

Announcing the move, Birmingham said: ‘In such a remarkably short space of time Jude has become an iconic figure at Blues, showing what can be achieved through talent, hard work and dedication. His caring, humble and engaging off-the-field demeanour has also made him such an impressive role model.

‘The 22 shirt has become synonymous with Jude, his rise to the first team aged just 16 years and 38 days and these qualities. And as such the club have decided it would be fitting to retire this number, to remember one of our own and to inspire others.’

Exploding onto the big stage at Borussia Dortmund

Dortmund were reportedly that Bellingham and his , visited in the summer of 2020, with the German side’s impressive record of developing younger players said to have been a key factor in their decision to opt for the Signal Iduna Park.

Dortmund snapped Bellingham up after just one season of first-team football (Picture: Getty)

Dortmund parted with £25m to sign Bellingham, making him the most expensive 17 year-old in the history of the sport.

Another record fell the way of Bellingham when, just thirty minutes into his debut, he became the youngest-ever Dortmund goalscorer at 17 years and 77 days.

But the records didn’t stop there, with his Champions League debut in October seeing him break Phil Foden’s record for the youngest English player to feature in the competition.

His goal in the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Manchester City made him Dortmund and England’s youngest scorer in the competition.

Growing in influence as the season went on, Bellingham’s campaign culminated with a start in the DFB-Pokal final against RB Leipzig, which Dortmund won 4-1 to hand Bellingham his first trophy.

Finishing his debut season in Germany with four goals in 46 appearances in all competitions, Bellingham was voted Newcomer of the Season by his teammates and was the runner-up to Barcelona star Pedri in the 2021 Kopa Trophy.

Underling his stature in the team, Bellingham was handed the armband for a Champions League group stage fixture against Sevilla in October 2022, becoming the third youngest player ever to do so.

Bellingham won the German Cup with Dortmund in 2021 (Picture: Getty)

Bellingham finished his second season with the German giants with six goals and 14 assists as the club finished eight points behind champions Bayern Munich.

Dortmund agonisingly missed out on the title to Bayern on the final day of the 2022/23 season after drawing at home to Mainz – a game which Bellingham was an unused substitute owing to a knee injury.

Despite missing out on team silverware, Bellingham’s performances, which saw him register 14 goals and seven assists, earnt him the Bundesliga Player of the Season award.

Global superstardom at Real Madrid

Bellingham snubbed interest from the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City to .

Los Blancos paid an initial £88.4m for Bellingham, which could rise to as much as £115m with add-ons.

He is currently the third most expensive English player of all-time, behind international colleagues Declan Rice and Jack Grealish, although he could rise to the top of the list if the add-ons are met.

Bellingham has lived up to his price tag at Madrid (Picture: Getty)

Bellingham’s Madrid career got off to a dream start with a , which was followed by a brace in his second game against Almeria and then late winners against Celta Vigo and Getafe.

His exploits in front of goal saw him become just the third player to score in each of his first four games for the club.

Arguably the finest moment of his Real Madrid career to date was when he scored two goals, one of which was a 92nd minute winner, in the 2-1 El Clasico win over Barcelona in October.

Bellingham, who is the first Madrid player to score on his La Liga, Champions League and El Clasico debut, broke the record for the when his 14th strike arrived against Cadiz in November.

Bellingham has another medal in his collection (Picture: Getty)

Just weeks after winning the Kopa Trophy, Bellingham was announced as the , which is awarded to the best U21 footballer playing in one of the top five divisions in Europe.

The second trophy of Bellingham’s career was claimed with a 4-1 win over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup final in January.

The silverware has kept coming, with Bellingham’s form helping Real secure the La Liga title with another crucial goal in the 3-2 win over Barcelona in April helping get his side over the line. Los Blancos added another trophy with their 15th Champions League triumph in London.

He closed out the season with 23 goals and 13 assists in 42 appearances. England fans will be hopeful there is plenty more to come this summer.

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