Bellingham can be England’s greatest ever.. aged just 20, he deserves to be mentioned alongside Charlton, Moore & Rooney

WILL Jude Bellingham become England’s greatest footballer of all time?

Just a couple of months outside of his teenage years, and with only a German Cup in his trophy cabinet so far, the question sounds extremely premature.

Kenny RamsayJude Bellingham is already setting the England national team alight at just 20[/caption]

Tuesday’s goal in a monumental display against Scotland at Hampden Park was only his second international strike in 26 appearances — and he was hooked early in the second half during Saturday’s 1-1 Euro 2024 qualifying draw with Ukraine.

Young English footballers are often hyped to the high heavens, only to crash and burn.

But ask anybody who has worked with Bellingham and you will hear a conviction that the Brummie midfielder can end up ranking alongside the absolute cream of the English game.

With World Cup winners such as Sir Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore, with sepia-tinted legends such as Sir Stanley Matthews, Duncan Edwards and Jimmy Greaves.

And, from the modern era, the likes of Bryan Robson, Paul Gascoigne, Wayne Rooney, Gary Lineker and Harry Kane. Bellingham already belongs in such elite company and has the potential to exceed them all.

He scores goals, he creates goals, he is a ball-winner, he is a visionary passer, he has physical stature, he has a deftness of touch, he glides past opponents, he has maturity, he possesses a rare intelligence on and off the pitch, as well as a supreme self-confidence.

The confidence to arrive at Real Madrid and embrace the pressure of the world’s mightiest club, to top LaLiga’s scoring charts and win the player of the month award at the first time of asking.

The arrogance to strut around a raucous Hampden Park and silence a resurgent Scotland with a performance so complete, even some members of the Tartan Army applauded him off the field.


Next month, Bellingham will contest his first Clasico against Barcelona in the Nou Camp and you can be assured that there will not be the slightest hint of fear.

For all of the player’s other attributes, England boss Gareth Southgate believes it is Bellingham’s character and mentality which set him apart.

Southgate said: “The biggest thing for me is his personality. We knew our anthem would be booed, we talked to the players about taking energy from that.

“But I’m looking at Jude standing in the line and I know what’s coming.

“That’s the sort of thing that makes the difference, the mentality of the player.”

Southgate cites Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier as influences on Bellingham’s blossoming leadership qualities.

He said: “The two full-backs who played against Scotland (Walker and Trippier) are incredible characters, real unsung heroes, and they set a brilliant leadership example.

“Where Jude’s bright enough is to attach himself to those sorts of characters. The people you mix with, the people you hang around with in life, probably are a good indicator of where you’re going to end up.

“Jude’s really savvy at that. I think his whole life and how his family have looked after him have given him a great start but there’s still a lot to go.”

GettyBellingham has the potential to go down as a great just like the boys of ’66[/caption]

Wayne Rooney is another who started young and continued to blossomGetty

Under the strong influence of his father Mark — a former senior policeman who ensures the FA stops his son from speaking to the written press while on England duty — Bellingham left his boyhood club Birmingham for Borussia Dortmund days after his 17th birthday.

Bellingham has never played in the Premier League and is unlikely to do so for many years, having become such an instant favourite in the Spanish capital.

Real are without an authentic centre-forward after the departure of Karim Benzema and so Bellingham has added a ‘false nine’ role to his repertoire and netted five times in his first four appearances for Los Blancos.

Of course, many English players have been lauded in their youth and never fulfilled their potential — Michael Owen was a Ballon d’Or winner at 21, Dele Alli was hailed as a future great and Sir Alex Ferguson genuinely likened an emerging Phil Jones to Edwards, the great lost Busby Babe who perished in 1958’s Munich Air Disaster.

So will Bellingham — a high-mileage 20-year-old with more than 200 senior appearances to his name — stand the test of time?

Southgate believes that, in terms of longevity, he may benefit from avoiding the extreme intensity of the Premier League.

The Three Lions boss said: “In Dortmund he used to have a winter break. That would help our league, there’s no question of that. Spain has the same.

“You can work with world-class players at some English clubs but he’s at a club with the expectations of being the biggest club in the world.

“He will be learning from some outstanding players. Playing against different tactical systems, different problems.

“I’m not sure I’ve come across a player that’s burnt out. There might be different reasons for not fulfilling their potential.

“Psychologically some players, maybe, reach a level where they feel they’ve done enough, they’ve had enough.

“But it’s for all of us to make sure we’re helping Jude in the right way, pushing him at the right times, helping him with the bits of his game that can get better, but also allowing him to flourish as he did against Scotland.”

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