It was in March 2020 when a 16-year-old Jude Bellingham was driven through the gates of Carrington to be given a tour of Manchester United’s training ground. Accompanied by his parents, the then-Birmingham City midfielder held talks with United’s transfer gurus and former manager Sir Alex Ferguson to gauge an understanding of the club, as they plotted a move for his signature that forthcoming summer. At the time, the hype around Bellingham was already beginning to take off, following a string of eye-catching performances in the Championship.
In the end, it was Borussia Dortmund that won the race for his signature, landing him in June 2020 for an initial fee of £25million. Birmingham reacted to his departure by making the decision to retire his No.22 shirt. It was a move that put the club under a microscope, resulting in widespread ridicule.
He had made just 44 senior appearances and the decision seemed laughable. Fast forward the clock more than two years and nobody is laughing now, such is the speed at which Bellingham has developed. Despite only turning 19 this summer, Bellingham is now widely considered as one of the most exciting players in the world and is idolised by millions. His overall game has gone from strength-to-strength at Dortmund, and he is in with a very good chance of playing a key role for England at the World Cup later this year.
Joining Dortmund at just 16, the overall opinion was that Bellingham would get the odd appearance here and there. However, the German giants made the decision to throw him straight in at the deep end, highlighted by his tally of 46 appearances in all competitions during his maiden season at the Westfalenstadion.