It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for Jude Bellingham, whose EFL journey started in August 2019, shortly after his 16th birthday. After signing for Borussia Dortmund earlier today, here's the story of his remarkable rise…
At just 16 years of age, Jude Bellingham had already etched his name into the Birmingham City history books. Now 17, the youngster has proven over the last 12 months that he is not your average teenager and has been one of Blues’ bright lights this season.
His transition to the senior game has been seamless. Many will recognise him as the school boy who became the club’s youngest-ever player when featuring in a Carabao Cup game against Portsmouth earlier this season, or the 16-year-old who scored the winner for Birmingham on his home debut to also become the club’s youngest-ever goalscorer, but it's been his behaviour off the pitch that also makes him special.
Birmingham born and bred, Bellingham’s journey with Blues began when he was just seven years old, when he joined the Blues Academy as an Under-8.
The beginning of August 2019 saw the rising star become the club’s youngest-ever player when making his senior bow in the Carabao Cup against Portsmouth, breaking a record that had previously been held for 49 years by Blues legend, Trevor Francis.
By the end of the month, he added another record to his tally after scoring the winner on his home debut against Stoke City, to claim the youngest goalscorer crown.
“Once a blue, always a blue,” Bellingham said in a recent interview with the club, and there’s no doubt that performances that followed in the Sky Bet Championship this season saw him capture the hearts of Blues supporters.
The England Under-17 international quickly became integral to Pep Clotet’s side and has been outstanding all season, making a total of 40 Championship appearances to date in the league, including four goals and three assists.
But it’s not just Bellingham’s footballing ability that makes him special. His exemplary attitude and character has seen him committed to developing himself away from football, as well as leave a legacy that stretches beyond what happens on the pitch.
“I want to be remembered, not just for football but for my actions off the pitch,” he said speaking to the League Football Education in December 2019.
Bellingham's involvement with charity organisation The Mustard Seed Project has seen him raise both money and awareness to help students less fortunate in Kenya, and on top of that the teenager also made it a priority this year to quickly settle on a formula to incorporate his studies into his busy timetable. Despite training full time with the Birmingham City first team, Bellingham’s commitment to the classroom has seen him develop transferable skills to help improve him as a player.
And so, after catching the eye of many football Clubs around the world, the youngster leaves the West Midlands for Germany, as Borussia Dortmund won the race to sign the Blues wonderkid - a club that has been pivotal in the development of another young English talent, 20-year-old Jadon Sancho, who has not only gone on to become one of the stars of the Bundesliga, but also established himself in England boss Gareth Southgate’s plans.
The transfer reportedly makes Bellingham the most expensive 17-year-old in history, and as he departs for Dortmund at the end of the Championship season there is no doubt that he is on his way to the top. One thing is for sure, however… as well as the history books, he will always be a part of the Birmingham City family.