The 19-year-old midfielder has been under contract with Borussia Dortmund since July 2020. As of June 2022 (reference date for all stats), the England international has played 89 games (10 goals, 18 assists) for BVB across all competitions and helped Dortmund on their way to winning the DFB-Pokal in 2021.
Brought up with great humility and modesty, Jude Bellingham impresses football experts and fans in equal measure. A bold young man who left the Midlands and decided Westphalia was the perfect place for him to develop. After a fairytale first 24 months at Borussia Dortmund, the 19-year-old said: "BVB are the best club for me and my development. I would even say: for me, there is no better club anywhere in the world!"
"He's still my little boy," says Denise Bellingham, the proud mum. She came to Germany with Jude when he started his adventure in Dortmund in the summer of 2020. "Jude is fun and can be a bit silly – he makes me laugh." And that's a big deal for a teenager who doesn't have time to be a teenager, as he had already become a regular starter in his first year in the Bundesliga, won the DFB-Pokal, been capped for England and almost won Euro 2020 – incidentally as the youngest player ever to play in the European Championship finals. That was on 13 June 2021 at Wembley Stadium, in England's 1-0 victory over Croatia – 16 days before his 18th birthday.
"I was very optimistic about my development as a footballer. But I could never have imagined how it would all go: the awards, the records, signing for one of the biggest clubs in Europe, my first games for the national team and in the Champions League. Looking back, it seems incredible that all these things have happened to me, but I have worked very hard to make this happen," he told the BORUSSIA members' magazine in January 2021, adding: "As a person, I have matured and learned a lot from my experiences, especially because I moved abroad and had to leave some of my family."
He grew up in the small town of Stourbridge, in the West Midlands, in the catchment area of four professional clubs: Wolves, West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa are all within 20 kilometres of Birmingham, but he only had eyes for one club: "For Jude, it was never a question that he would play for Birmingham City," his mother says. "He went there as a seven-year-old and never wanted to leave." Four or five times a week, the Bellinghams drove their son to training, initially without any thought as to what level Jude would play at one day. "You don't send your child to play football with the plan of becoming a pro one day," Denise says, "he just enjoyed it – that was the most important thing."
It was only when the 13-years-young Jude was called up to England's U15 side and a year later when he also made the jump to Birmingham's U18s that "even we could see just how talented he was." Birmingham's Spanish coach, Pep Clotet, once told us in amazement that, in the comparatively trivial game against Middlesbrough, there were scouts from half of Europe sitting in the stands – all there to watch Jude Bellingham.
At the age of 16 and 38 days, he made his professional debut – the youngest player in Birmingham City’s club history. From the very beginning, he was able to compete in the Championship – England's notoriously tough second division with 24 clubs. "The boy has incredible emotional intelligence and maturity for his age," Birmingham's youth coordinator Kristjaan Speakman said: "There are a lot of young players with talent. But right from the start, it was clear that Jude was different from the rest because of the way he understands the game and is willing and able to learn new things." The midfielder prefers playing in the middle of the park, using his strong physical presence and tricky dribbling ability to operate between the lines, as a box-to-box midfielder with great technique, bags of pace and a desire to get forward.
He has been in Dortmund since the summer of 2020. "I was very well received in a very friendly city. Dortmund reminds me a bit of Birmingham: a former working-class town with very friendly and laid-back people. Of course, the stadium made the biggest impression on me – sensational! I knew it from photos and TV broadcasts, but when you get up close in real life, it seems even more powerful."
In the 2021/22 Bundesliga season, he played the most games of all BVB players (32, all in the starting line-up), spent the most on the pitch (2795 minutes), and contested the most duels, winning 52 percent of them. The elegant, technically gifted dribbler was the most fouled player in the league (91 times; he himself only committed 38 fouls), scored three goals and laid on eight assists (only Marco Reus got more assists for BVB). Directly involved in 11 goals, Bellingham tripled his return from the previous season.
"Football comes very naturally to me. When I have the ball, I seek out competition – to me, that is the most normal thing in the world. I want my teammates to see that I am always doing everything I can to make sure we win. If we lose a game, I'm the worst person – you can only imagine. But off the pitch, I'm just a normal person who likes to relax and play PlayStation," he told the BORUSSIA members' magazine (January 2022 issue).