Sergeant’s son who is England’s golden boy: Wonderkid Jude Bellingham, 19, owes his love of football to his ‘non-league Cristiano Ronaldo’ father who scored more than 700 goals while working for the police (and his brother is pretty good too)
He is the youngest member Gareth Southgate‘s England squad for the Qatar World Cup.
But at 19, Jude Bellingham has blasted into the World Cup stage, bagging his first international goal of the Three Lions’ campaign in the Middle East.
In stunning fashion, the teenage superstar glided a goal past the Iranian keeper, with an impressive header into the top corner.
He became only the second teenager to score for England at the World Cup, following in the footsteps of Michael Owen – and the first player born after 2000 to bag a goal at the championships.
It was the perfect start for Southgate’s squad – and for Bellingham, who as a boy dreamt of playing at the World Cup.
The teenager was described as ‘outrageous’ by pundits following his opening display against Iran on the first day of England’s World Cup campaign. Jude is pictured on holiday
Hey Jude! Bellingham makes a stunning World Cup debut – bagging both his first goal for England and the Three Lions’ opening one in the tournament in Qatar
Bellingham became only the second teenager in English history to score in the World Cup, following in the footsteps of Michael Owen
Bellingham senior (middle) juggled stints at clubs including Leamington, Stourbridge and Sutton Coldfield Town with his day job as a sergeant with West Midlands Police
Close family: Jude Bellingham, left, with mother Denise, father Mark and younger brother, Jobe Bellingham
‘Grounded’: Jude pictured with his loving mother, Denise, who took him to watch his father play football. He says she is what keeps him grounded with his footballing superstardom
The teenage midfielder, who set a world record for a 17-year-old when he moved from boyhood club Birmingham City to Borussia Dortmund for £22.5million in 2020, is coveted by several top Premier League sides.
But he owes his love of football to a star of the lower reaches of the game – his father.
Mark Bellingham, now 46, scored more than 700 goals in around 900 appearances, making him a sort of non-league Cristiano Ronaldo.
Bellingham senior juggled stints at clubs including Leamington, Stourbridge and Sutton Coldfield Town with his day job as a sergeant with West Midlands Police.
In his pomp, he earned only around £200 a week from football. His son takes home around £2.5million a year in Germany and would more than triple that with a move to an English club or to Spain – Real Madrid are said to be interested in signing him next summer.
And although Jude admitted he later grew to idolising the likes of Wayne Rooney, it was his Bellingham senior’s action on the pitch that made him Jude’s first footballing hero.
‘We talk about footballing heroes, and my dad was like my first,’ Jude told The FA in an interview.
‘When you go and watch him play every week in non-League, you know it’s not the Premier League or anything, but seeing the way that he played and the atmosphere, it made me fall in love with football so he was probably my first hero.
Young and ambitious: Jude Bellingham as a lad pictured in his football kit
Jude Bellingham owes his love of football to a star of the lower reaches of the game – his father, Mark Bellingham. Pictured: Jude, aged 16, with his parents Mark and Denise and his brother
Jetting in style: Jude cuts a classy figure in his baby pink outfit as he flies on a private jet
‘After the first few times of going, I’d start to pay a bit more attention to the games and stuff, the atmosphere and he’s scoring goals so you see him celebrating and stuff like that – you want that to be me.
‘Growing up, he’d always give me tips on what I could do and now it gets to a certain age and it sort of flips and that’s brilliant because we have that sort of relationship like father and son and then as I got older, like coach and player.’
Jude broke into the England side ahead of last year’s Covid-delayed Euro 2020 championships, making history as the tournament’s youngest-ever player, and is now a regular first choice. His brother Jobe, 17, is also a professional on Birmingham City’s books.
Their father hung up his boots at the age of 41 in 2017 and is believed to have retired from the police. He declines to discuss his son’s achievements.
Jude told The Guardian in 2020 how his mother Denise took him to watch his father play: ‘It’s where I started to get that love for football. I think you can see in the way I play that I’ve watched the game from a young age.
‘That non-league style of toughness and being gritty when you need to be… I do think that comes from watching my dad play – even though he never tackled!’
Leamington FC chairman Jim Scott described Jude’s father as a ‘goal machine’, adding: ‘He was in great demand, a good player who was extremely dedicated, particularly when you consider his demanding career. [He] could have played at a higher level. You can see where Jude gets his talent from.’
Jude, who plays his club football with Borussia Dortmund, says his mother Denise stays with him in Germany where she keeps him ‘grounded’.
Chilling in the pool, Jude looks as relaxed as can be ahead of his World Cup debut for England in Qatar this year
As cool off the pitch as he is on it, Jude Bellingham shows off his style in this sophisticated grey suit and turtle neck during a visit to a tailors in Dortmund, Germany
And Jude’s younger brother, Jobe, is pretty nifty football player too, having made his England under-18 debut in September, being named player of the tournament in a tournament in Spain
Even with the future King, the Prince William, Bellingham looks composed as he receives his England shirt from the Prince of Wales earlier this month
‘My mum keeps me grounded, she’s always there for me and I can’t thank her enough for everything she’s done for me,’ he added during an interview with The FA in May 2021.
Despite his multi-million pound contract, Jude has tried to downplay his prowess.
He told NLP in 2016: ‘I’ve always said I’m not that great a player. I think I owe my team-mates over the years a lot more than they owe me.’
Ahead of heading to Qatar for his first World Cup, Bellingham opened up about which of England’s former heroes he was using for inspiration – pointing to former captain and Liverpool legend, Steven Gerrard.
‘Gerrard was probably my biggest one,’ he told BBC Sport. ‘The character he has besides football is world-class, and then you add on his ability – it’s a joke.’
And Gerrard was full of praise for the youngster, predicting the teenager would be ‘one to watch’ at this year’s World Cup.
‘I’ll be focusing my attention on England,’ he said, reported the Liverpool Echo. ‘I’m really excited to watch Jude Bellingham, I’m a massive fan of him. I think the next 10 or 15 years, he’s going to become an England superstar.’
Speaking after England’s 6-2 victory against Iran, former England heroes Alan Shearer and Rio Ferdinand were also full of praise for the young star.
Jude Bellingham was hailed as ‘fabulous footballer’ by former England star, Rio Ferdinand after the 19-year-old’s performance in Qatar on Monday
Jude became only the second English teenager to score, following in the footsteps of Michael Owen (pictured) who was 18 when he scored against Argentina in 1998
And that was the moment Jude announced his stunning first goal for England, as he charges away in celebration after watching his header beat the goalkeeper
Alan, who was awarded 63 caps and scored 30 times, said: ‘It was a really, really impressive performance. The young boy – can we call him that? He’s not really now, he’s a man isn’t he, Bellingham. Oh my word, what a performance. Incredible.’
Rio was stunned by Bellingham’s confidence and composure on and off the pitch and told Gary Lineker on BBC Sport: ‘The authority that he plays with out on the pitch goes well beyond his years.
‘He’s a fabulous footballer but delivering at a World Cup like that, at that age – we talk about the great midfielders we’ve played with and we’ve seen in England in our generation and even maybe yours, none of them were doing what he is doing at this age, on this stage. I’m not saying he’s better or will be as good as all of them but as this age none of them were doing what he is doing and it is fabulous to see.’
Bellingham even features in football game, FIFA 23 – a fact he celebrated in a post on his Instagram earlier this year.
And his younger brother, too, looks like he could be following in his footsteps, having made his England debut earlier this year.
In September, Jobe Bellingham received his first call-up to play for England under-18s at the Pinatar Tournament in Spain and was awarded player tournament.