Sport

The special reason why Jude Bellingham wears number 22 for England

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Jude Bellingham has been the star of the show during England’s World Cup campaign this year, and he’s emerging as one of the best young midfielders in the game.

The Borussia Dortmund player is just 19, but he’s arrived on the international scene with composure beyond his years and all the technical skill to become a top, top player.

Bellingham came through the Birmingham City academy and played his first game for England back in 2020 at the age of just 17.

Birmingham sold him back in 2020 after selling him to Dortmund, and made headlines by deciding to retire the number 22 shirt “to remember one of our own and to inspire others” coming through the academy.

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He wears 22 for England and Dortmund – and it turns out there's a hidden meaning behind it too.

Speaking to TalkSPORT2, Birmingham's head of academy Mike Dodds said that Bellingam was always number 22 because he was the perfect mix of the holding, box-to-box and a more attacking creator roles.

Those positions usually wear the numbers four, eight and 10. Add them together and you of course yet 22.

There's a reason the young star always wears 22Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Dodds said: "He would have been about 13 or 14 and like most boys that age, they want to be a number 10.

"I remember, we sat down with him and we said, ‘we think you’re doing yourself a disservice, we think you can do all of it. So we came up with, ‘we think you can be a 22.’”

Dodds went on to say: "His eyes lit up and we knew we had hooked him from then on in. We said we thought he could be a holding midfielder, or a four. We thought he could be a box-to-box, which is an eight and we thought he could be a scorer and a creator, so a 10.

"And from the age of 13 onwards he has held on to that all the way through and you can see that in his game. He made his debut at Birmingham City and he said, ‘I want my squad number to be number 22’ and said the same thing at Dortmund.

"So what I am hoping is that kids are going to look at that and go, ‘I am going to be the next 22’ and he sets a trend off in terms of being able to do everything. I genuinely think he can do everything; I think depending on the tactical needs of the game, he can play in all three positions and I think that is what makes him so unique."

Bellingham will be key to England's hopes when they take on defending champions France on Saturday in the quarter finals.

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