On 22 July 2020, Jude Bellingham celebrated escaping relegation from the Championship with Birmingham City. Eight days later, he joined his new teammates at Borussia Dortmund for the start of pre-season preparations for the 2020/21 season. The 17-year-old is already part of the first-team squad. All those who watched the club’s pre-season friendlies will know why.
"Jude Bellingham has decided with absolute confidence to pursue his career at Borussia Dortmund. The primary motivation behind his decision were the prospects on the pitch we were able to offer him", said Michael Zorc, BVB sporting director, after the young Englishman signed a long-term contract with the club, adding: "He has enormous potential, which we will continue to develop together with him over the coming years. He already boasts astonishing quality with and without the ball, and has a strong mentality to boot.''
Bellingham, who also plays for England’s U17 national team (3 caps, 2 goals), is about to finish a long season in the Championship, in which he has contributed 4 goals and 3 assists from midfield in his 40 appearances. "I’m incredibly excited to have joined one of the biggest clubs in Europe. The direction they are heading in and how much they help young players improve made it an easy decision for me personally and for my family too. I can’t wait to perform in front of over 80,000 fans when they are back inside one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world – hopefully as soon as possible. The south stand is the best stand in Europe."
According to kicker magazine, Jude Bellingham is the outstanding talent among English players born in 2003. He made his first-team debut for Birmingham City at the age of 16 years and 38 days - making him the youngest player in club history - and was immediately able to make a positive impression in the Championship, England’s notoriously tough 24-team second tier.
''The lad has unbelievable emotional intelligence and maturity for his age,'' says Birmingham City academy coordinator Kristjaan Speakman, adding: ''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 17-year-old prefers playing as a box-to-box midfielder, using his strong physical presence and tricky dribbling ability to operate between the lines. In the words of kicker magazine: ''A central midfielder with refined technique, bags of pace and a desire to get forward.''
His closest companions in his first few weeks at BVB have been Thomas Meunier and Jadon Sancho. ''Jadon has helped me a lot. It's not only great to play with him, he also always makes sure that I understand all the information given to us by the coaches. I've also spent a lot of time with Thomas Meunier, as the two of us live very close to one another. We've played table tennis together and he's helped me get home from training. What a guy!''