Jobe Bellingham is not Jude Bellingham – and expectations should be tempered accordingly – The Athletic

On the night before Jude Bellingham’s final game as a Birmingham City player in July 2020, a select group of influential people were invited to a surprise celebration meal on the pitch at St Andrew’s.

Tables were set out for each attending member who had played a part in the teenager’s journey; from the academy to the first team, and soon to be on to Borussia Dortmund and England.

This was Jude’s evening. There would be no supporters inside the stadium to give him a final send-off the following day. The pandemic had ruined that.

Instead, the club were doing their bit to make his final hours in royal blue special. The Bellingham family were invited. So, too, were some of the midfielder’s former coaches, as well current members of staff.

Pictures were prohibited for any public use and the event was invite-only.

Birmingham’s then-CEO Xuandong Ren had taken a keen interest in Bellingham from an early age and wanted to make a big fuss.

Jude was, after all, a generational talent, a star in the making, and so wonderfully gifted that Ren decided to retire the shirt number 22 the day after the teenager’s departure was confirmed.

Ren took centre stage during the presentation to wish Bellingham well in the years ahead.

As he ploughed through the goodbye speech, he also defiantly claimed that the future was bright for Birmingham because of another youngster in attendance that night.

“And we have another Bellingham who could be even better – no pressure, Jobe,” said Ren, observers have told The Athletic.

Jobe was just 14 years old then, and significantly under-developed in comparison to where his older brother was at that age.

Add comment