Jude Bellingham: Birmingham City teenager wins EFL Young Player of the Month award for November

By Joe TownsendBBC Sport
Jude Bellingham
Jude Bellingham captained England U17s to victory at this summer's Syrenka Cup in Poland, scoring twice in three matches

Jude Bellingham probably grew up thinking his dad was Cristiano Ronaldo. "Grew up" is a bit of a stretch because the Birmingham City midfielder is just 16-years-old.

And yet he is already a regular in an established Championship team.

Bellingham started all five of Blues' games in November, and has now made 20 appearances this season in total, making enough of an impact to win him the English Football League's Young Player of the Month award.

"I'm honoured and really grateful. It's good to know that your performances are being recognised," he told the club's website.

"I feel like with every game I am getting a bit better. Maybe the numbers haven't been that great, but I have had a couple of assists in the last few games, something that I definitely want to bump up.

"It is nice to think that people will look beyond that, though, and consider the overall performances and contribution."

Like father like son

Hey Jude, you mentioned the numbers - which brings us back to dad - police officer Mark Bellingham.

With his years of service in the West Midlands constabulary, Bellingham Snr is a different kind of boy in blue, but he certainly had an impact in his eldest son's progress to the Birmingham City first team.

Mark is something of a non-league goalscoring legend having scored more than 700 goalsexternal-link in a semi-professional career which started at East Thurrock United in 1994.

"I've managed my ability well, I've always said I'm not that great a player," he modestly told the Non-League Paper in 2016.

"I'm 40 now so I think this season will probably be my last. My eldest son is now playing for Birmingham under-16s - maybe it's time to finally step away."

Move over Trevor Francis

Jude Bellingham (right)
Jude Bellingham's goal against Stoke in August made him the youngest scorer in the EFL since Wycombe's Jordon Ibe in 2011

While dad spent 22 years building up to his own landmark moment, Jude took just one game.

In starting Birmingham's EFL Cup first-round match at Portsmouth in August, he became the club's youngest ever player at 16 years and 38 days, breaking the record set by club legend Trevor Francis in 1970.

Before the month was out he had broken another of Francis' records by becoming Blues' youngest ever scorer.

"This summer he matured a lot. He's quiet, very well-grounded, very professional and very mature," said Birmingham head coach Pep Clotet after Bellingham netted the winner against Stoke.

"It's difficult to say how far he can go when you have such a huge talent like him at such a young age.

"I think with his mentality, his goal should be to try and get established in this squad and play as many games as possible for the club that he loves."

Bellingham has certainly done that.

Since making his first league start in early September, he has missed out on a place in the Blues starting XI just twice.

"The opportunity the head coach has given me to play this year has been amazing," Bellingham added.

"I feel like every game I am growing and learning in a great league where you need to show you can handle men's football.

"I'm very grateful to pick up the award now I really want to kick on and see what I can achieve, and what we can achieve as a team."

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