Why Real Madrid has fallen in love with a 20-year-old Englishman


      Why Real Madrid has fallen in love with a 20-year-old Englishman

Jude Bellingham celebrates after scoring yet another match-winning goal. Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images CNN  — 

Real Madrid’s return to the Santiago Bernabéu after vacating its home stadium due to building works was supposed to be a celebration for Madridistas but, as time ticked away, the Spanish giant was being pegged to a 1-1 draw by Getafe.

Enter Jude Bellingham who, deep into added time, was fastest to a rebound off goalkeeper David Soria, prodded the ball into the net, and secured Madrid’s fourth consecutive victory – and his second late match-winner in a row. In front of a wall of sound, the 20-year-old stood with arms outstretched, tugged at the club’s crest on his shirt and pointed at the sky.

Bellingham, it seemed, belonged at the Bernabéu, as if he was holding his arms out to the fans and they were roaring their approval, serenading him with a rendition of the The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”

It was the loudest cheer Bellingham had ever heard on a football pitch, he said afterwards to Real Madrid TV.

“I couldn’t believe it, to be honest. When they were signing ‘Hey Jude’ at the end, I got goosebumps. I just wanted to turn and stand still and listen to it while my legs were shaking,” he said.

Already, Jude Bellingham’s goalscoring celebration in Real Madrid’s famous white shirt is omnipresent – after just four La Liga games, he has scored five goals, the most in the league.

Bellingham is the second Real Madrid player in history – after club legend Cristiano Ronaldo – to score in his first four La Liga games.

For his part in Madrid’s perfect start to the season, he was named La Liga’s player for the month for August – his debut month in the competition.

Bellingham has adapted to the team, Los Blancos manager Carlo Ancelotti noted after Saturday’s win, his integration into the squad confirmed by a holiday with some other young players, posting pictures on social media with French stars Aurélien Tchouaméni and Eduardo Camavinga.

“I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it, but I’m very grateful,” Bellingham added on Saturday. “Every time I put on this shirt, I give one hundred per cent and I hope to continue like this.”

When Bellingham signed with Real Madrid in June for €103 million ($110.4m), plus additional fees, expectations were high of the young attacking midfielder.

Known for his complete skillset, as well as his maturity and leadership qualities, Bellingham had become the youngest ever Bundesliga captain during his time at Borussia Dortmund, leading out the German side while he was still just 19 years old.

      Why Real Madrid has fallen in love with a 20-year-old Englishman

Bellingham has scored five goals and given one assist in his first four La Liga games for Real Madrid. Alberto Gardin/SOPA/LightRocket/Getty Images

And when he chose the No. 5 shirt, a departure from his normal No. 22, to honor the legacy of legendary midfielder Zinedine Zidane, those expectations were raised even higher.

But, so far, Bellingham seems to be settling into his new role as a “very important” player for Real Madrid, as Ancelotti dubbed him – take out the young Englishman’s goal participations (goals plus assists) this season and Los Merengues would have seven fewer points and sit in the bottom half of the table.

“He’s a fantastic player … a complete midfielder and he brings real pace and intensity to the game,” Ancelotti said after Bellingham’s debut in a preseason game. “He moves extremely well without the ball and he’s different to the other midfielders we have.”

For Bellingham himself, the Bernabéu is simply a “place like no other,” as he said on social media after his match-winning goal on Saturday. “Mi casa.”


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