The Santiago Bernabeu has hosted a plethora of generational talents throughout their historied existence. But, there has only been one name which has reverberated throughout every single matchday this season: Jude Bellingham.
There is no doubt in anyone’s minds that the 20-year-old Englishman is at the top of the footballing world currently. Last-minute winners, mesmerizing dribbles and his iconic celebration embraced worldwide. There never was a period of adapting to life in Madrid, but rather one of Madridistas adapting to life with Jude.
If these weren’t proof enough of Bellingham’s greatness, his presence in Turin recently to pick up the esteemed Golden Boy award should be the cherry on top. He has risen to the upper most echelons of world football right now, and has become the point of reference for all to witness and embrace.
Bellingham won the Golden Boy award in utterly dominant fashion, clinching 485 votes, with about 97 percent of the total first-place votes. And he did so overthrowing some of the finest young talent in the footballing world.
The 20-year-old England and Real Madrid midfielder beat a strong field of contenders, including Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala, Barcelona’s Alejandro Balde, RB Leipzig’s Xavi Simons and Benfica’s Antonio Silva. And by doing so, he also became the first-ever Real Madrid player to receive the honours.
His rise to prominence has been a fast-paced one. I mean, if a club is set to retire a 17-year-old’s jersey after a mere two-year tenure, there is bound to be some reason for the same.
n 2021, he made a big move to Borussia Dortmund, where he continued to impress with his versatility, maturity and creativity.
But the fairytale all began in the summer of 2023, when Bellingham completed a big transfer to Los Balncos — Real Madrid –becoming the most expensive English player of all time.
⚪️✨ Jude Bellingham, already back in Madrid to prepare the next games. “Real Madrid is the best team ever. I am happy to have the opportunity to play here, you don’t get to do that everyday”. pic.twitter.com/7UkGpiD48k
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) December 5, 2023
The pressure of being a Madridista has gotten the best of them all. But, there was never any doubt for Jude. He took the responsibility with joy and has taken the entire footballing world by the scruff of their neck.
The Englishman has scored 15 in 17 appearances for Los Blancos, including a late winner in El Clasico against Barcelona. And for those who have not recognised it yet, Bellingham did it all as a midfielder.
But, it has not just been the scoring charts that Jude has dominated.
Jude Bellingham in La Liga this season.1st in goals1st in through balls1st in blocks
2nd in shots on target2nd in passes into the penalty area
Next target is Balon D’or. He doesn’t just rack up individual statistics, he makes everyone around him better.
— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) December 4, 2023
When collecting his prestigious prize in Turin, Bellingham said, “I can’t be more grateful to all the people I have met along the way to help get me to the point I am at now. It’s about trying to make my team and country the best teams in the world and to be the best player in the world you have to help your teams win and to join that list is such a big honour.”
But, he was not done just yet. The humble youngster took the time to acknowledge those who came before him and paid his respects to Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney as well, crediting the striker for having been an inspiration.
“I think Wayne Rooney was probably my biggest influence growing up, obviously being from England and the way he played, the way he fought, but there are so many other players that I’ve taken bits from,” exclaimed Bellingham.
“I’m really grateful for everything football has given me so far in my life and the support from my family to keep playing and keep enjoying it has been huge.”
Bellingham now follows in the footsteps of previous winners such as Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.
And it would not be unfair to expect the Birmingham man to challenge for Ballon d’Or honours in the future, with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe, and Mnachester City Erling Haaland ushering in a new generation go football greatness.