Jude Bellingham given hero’s welcome as he returns to Birmingham to say goodbye to fans two years after leaving
JUDE BELLINGHAM returned to St Andrew’s tonight to a raucous reception.
The England superstar came through Birmingham City’s academy before breaking into their first team aged just 16.
GettyJude Bellingham applauds his old fans[/caption]
Bellingham, 19, played 44 times for BluesRex
PAThe England star waves at the adoring St Andrew’s crowd[/caption]
He impressed at the heart of Blues’ midfield, making 44 appearances before departing for Borussia Dortmund in a £25million deal.
The in-demand midfielder, 19, has retained his affection for his boyhood club – returning tonight a hero after his Three Lions World Cup exploits.
Bellingham was greeted pitchside 15 minutes before Birmingham’s Championship clash with Reading – high-fiving awe-struck ballboys before waving and blowing kisses to the crowd.
Decked out in a grey hoodie and a warm black jacket, the all-action star tipped for the top was brilliantly received by his old supporters, who gleefully welcomed him home.
He then took a picture with the Birmingham mascot, before shaking hands with lucky fans sat in the front row.
Prior to his appearance, he said: “I never got the chance to say goodbye, until tonight! I’m back to finally say thank you.”
Such was the impression that Bellingham left on Blues, that they decided to RETIRE his No22 shirt after his departure.
The move was roundly mocked at the time, although England fans recently joked that his incredible performances since have vindicated the decision.
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PABellingham gives a thumbs up to the crowd[/caption]
An affinity for Blues clearly runs in the family, with Bellingham’s younger brother Jobe on the bench for John Eustace’s side this evening.
Jobe, 17, has already made 15 appearances for Birmingham.
Blues went into tonight’s match 14th – but only five points off the play-offs.
Tonight’s starting XI features Manchester United loanees Hannibal Mejbri and Tahith Chong – as well as SunSport columnist Troy Deeney.
Despite being happy at Dortmund, Bellingham has been linked with all of Europe’s heavy hitters.
He is set to have his pick at the end of the season, with Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid all believed to be keen.
Upon Bellingham’s St Andrew’s return, many Blues online wished he could be out there playing.
One tweeted: “You bringing your boots?”
With Dortmund not back in Bundesliga action until January 22, Bellingham has been enjoying some time off this week.
He went to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland after returning from Qatar – posing with fans and riding on rollercoasters during his night out.
PAJude Bellingham played 44 times for Birmingham[/caption]
GettyJobe Bellingham, 17, is currently on Blues’ books[/caption]