He is free to travel as far as he desires.” Kieran Trippier’s claim concerning Jude Bellingham, made to FIFA+ following England’s demolition of IR Iran, is unlikely to elicit many, if any, contradicting views.
After all, this is an adolescent who sees the deep end as a paddling pool, something to splash around in and have fun. Nerves? Apparently not for a 19-year-old who led Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League and became England’s second-youngest World Cup striker with the game-winning header on Monday. Only Michael Owen, 18, was younger than Bellingham, who is 19 years and 145 days old today. Not a horrible way to get your country started.
He is the World Cup’s first player born after 2000 to score. Nonetheless, his maturity is extraordinary. After his first UEFA Champions League games with the armband, at Seville, when he scored (one of four in the group stage), he surprised a couple of TV reporters by introducing himself and shaking their hands after their post-match interviews. In an essay published last week in The Times, former England midfielder Adam Lallana recalls Jordan Henderson returning to Liverpool after an England camp and telling him, “Wait till you see this kid.” “His reaction was based on Jude’s attitude and application in training, as well as his readiness to listen,” Lallana continued.
England profits as Bellingham parades prodigious gifts
It wasn’t simply Bellingham’s goal that drew attention as England won their second-largest World Cup and 30th in 70 matches in the competition’s history. According to Opta, all 40 of his first-half passes found an England jersey, with ten of them coming in the final third. It was easy to forget that for a guy who had only three substitute appearances at UEFA EURO 2020, this was his first tournament start. Aside from his passing, the timing of his dashes into his box in pursuit of a goal was crucial. Aside from his header, he was also involved in Raheem Sterling’s third goal, playing the ball out wide to Harry Kane and then haring into the area himself.
Bellingham would have been waiting at the far post if Sterling had not connected. A trio of Iran players stopped another Bellingham surge near the conclusion of the first half.
The youngster’s performance against Iran bodes well for an England team that has drawn a huge, bold line under their six-match losing streak. The offensive purpose he brings alongside Declan Rice in Southgate’s 433 configurations might perhaps provide another dimension to a squad that already benefits from the apparent fearlessness of two-goal Bukayo Saka (just 21 himself). “I simply told him [Bellingham] before the game, ‘go and do your thing, go and express yourself, go and attack, and I’ll be behind you to sweep up,’ and we did that as a duo tonight,” Rice told FIFA+.
Full-back Trippier, one of the squad’s more veteran defenders, was similarly impressed: “He is a top, top quality player, so seasoned at such a young age, he is a top, top quality player, he is a top, top quality player, he is “He said. “These are the kinds of competitions where you can show everyone how amazing you are while still having fun. That’s what we’re trying to tell him.” This quick learner seemed to have been paying attention once more.