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Jude Bellingham: The rise of €103m new galactico



Just 16 years of age, a young Jude Bellingham broke into Birmingham’s first team. His first opponent? Portsmouth in the League Cup. Though the tie ended in a 3-0 defeat, Bellingham left his imprint on the English game. Battling for every ball, contesting on every blade of grass, it was clear to see this boy had something…

‘He ended up taking us to the national finals’
Though Jude’s career would turn to football, his ability to apply himself and compete in any sport was apparent from the get go. His natural ability, combined with hard work and application would see him succeed at whatever challenge was put in front of him. Long distance running, sprint races and cricket were among the other sports that Jude excelled in. Jude’s Primary school teacher James Ayers said: “He had the mentality where if he saw someone achieving something or doing something that he thought was better than him, he would focus his attention on that.”

Jude’s football life began in Stourbridge, playing for his local side in the area he grew up. It wasn’t long before Jude joined Birmingham’s U8s, progressing through the academy until breaking into the U18s side at the age of 14. Team-mate and schoolfriend Geraldo Bajrami said: “I just remember at school, at the playground he would be 11, playing with the 16-year-olds, ripping them to shreds.”

It was always apparent Jude was ahead of his age group showing maturity and drive. His academy coach at Birmingham Mike Dodds told Sky Sports News: “Around 11, 12, 13 was probably the kind of time where he’s accelerating quicker than the boys in his age group. He was my best coach educator, I could never go into a training session with Jude Bellingham and not be planned and organised.”

Dodd also explains the thought process behind the 22 shirt Jude wore. He explained his idea that the youngster would possess the attributes of a number four, five, six, and number eight player. As a result, Dodds felt this made him a more rounded player who was adaptable to any situation in midfield.

Agile, quick, and technically gifted, Jude would run rings around his team-mates so yet again, he was fast-tracked into the U23s team at 15-years-old. Three goals from 10 appearances didn’t go unnoticed in the development squad, with Jude gradually being introduced to the first team as a schoolboy. Bellingham took up a two-year scholarship beginning in July 2019. His home league debut for Birmingham was against Stoke City, coming on as substitute after 30 minutes had been played.

Birmingham were 1-0 down at this point but an inspired Bellingham performance resulted in a Blues 2-1 victory, with Jude scoring the winner.

Starting out on the left wing, Jude was eventually pushed into the centre of midfield, and his impressive performances won him EFL young player of the month in November 2019. His manager at the time Pep Clotet said: “he feels more comfortable in midfield.”

There was widespread interest in the 2020 January transfer window even though he had only played half a season. Fortunately for Birmingham he stayed, with Clotet saying: “I was a little bit afraid we might even lose Jude,” showing just how important he was at just 16 years of age.

He finished the season with four goals and 44 appearances across all competitions, helping Birmingham secure their Championship status after a turbulent season. This would be his final campaign in the Midlands.

Bellingham would eventually leave Birmingham in the summer of 2020. Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund were the favourites to secure his signature. It had been reported that the midfielder’s father Mark visited multiple top European sides to consider their suitability to find the next important step in his career.

In the end, the famous yellow wall of Borussia Dortmund proved to be the destination. Renowned for developing young prospects and providing them game time, it appeared to be a logical decision for the midfielder to further his career. Twenty-five million pounds later and donning their distinctive black and yellow shirt, Jude was a Borussia Dortmund player at 17. It was the most expensive transfer in history for a 17-year-old, and he showed his talent, scoring on his debut against MSV Duisburg on September 14, 2020.

Five days later he made his Bundesliga debut against Borussia Mönchengladbach, assisting the opening goal in a 3-0 win. The following month Jude faced Lazio in the Champions League at 17 years and 113 days old, making him the youngest Englishman to play in the competition, a record previously set by Manchester City’s Phil Foden.

Former Borussia Dortmund team-mate Thomas Delaney could see straight away Jude was different to your average teenager describing. Delaney described him as “intense”, adding: “He expects a lot from himself and he expects a lot from his surroundings… he has a big big heart of going the extra mile”. Delaney even went on to make comparisons to the prolific Erling Haaland. “They have this loose wire which I think is very important…this mentality of winning in training, in every part of the game.”

Bellingham would shine yet again on the biggest stage in Europe against Manchester City during the quarter-final knockout stage. He was heavily involved in Marco Reus’ goal in the first away leg, as well as scoring in the second home leg. A fine strike into the top right corner, just inside the 25-yard box. If you hadn’t heard the name Jude Bellingham before, you had now. Bellingham went on to finish his debut season in Germany with 46 appearances and four goals in all competitions, winning the DFB-Pokal (his first major trophy), and was awarded “Newcomer of the season” by his fellow players.

Bellingham continued to study remotely with Loughborough University while at Dortmund. He completed his diploma with his college mentor Jason Ramsey saying: “He could put his mind to absolutely anything, he could be a lawyer, he could be a solicitor, he’s being a footballer…he could be a teacher himself, he could be a reporter and I still think he’d be one of the best.” Bellingham juggled his education with the pressures of being a professional footballer, completing his course with the high standards he carries in all walks of life.

Coinciding with his club success, Bellingham’s international career took a step to the next level in the 2020/21 season. He made his debut replacing Mason Mount against the Republic of Ireland in November leading to his squad selection for the 2020 European Championships, which was subsequently delayed until 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Bellingham made multiple substitution appearances in the tournament, making him, at the time, the youngest player to have feature at the tournament. Chris Powell, England coach at the time, said: “The biggest compliment I can give Jude is during the Euros, the camp, and the training, all you ever heard was, ‘Well played Jude’, ‘Fantastic Jude’, ‘Well done Bellers’. It was like watching a player who had a real idea of the game.”

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Sports Ministry Will Prioritise Funding For All Sports – Minister Enoh




The Honourable Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh has reiterated that his administration prioritizes the funding of sports in the country, as the Ministry will work with all sports federations to determine focus areas, through budgetary submissions.

The Minister made this known during a briefing with pressmen in Asaba, the host city of the 7th National Youth Games. He stated that his experience in this area, while serving as the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation (Federal House of Representatives) led him to proactively direct on the necessary steps to take for the proper funding of sports in the country.

“The only way to provide for the proper funding of sports is to look at the number of federations, an itemization of their peculiar activities, and to provide as needed,” Senator Enoh said. “For example, if in 2024, a particular sport will undertake pieces of training, and participate in competitions (both local and international), the only way to solve the incident problem of lack of funds, athletes missing out on competitions because of finances, is to provide for all of these ahead of time,” he added.

“As much as possible, I am going to push for this to be done, because it is the only way that we can properly budget for sports development. The ministry is desirous of making credible progress in this regard,” The Honourable Minister concluded.

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Man United fans fly ‘Glazers Out’ banner over Tampa NFL stadium




Man United fans fly 'Glazers Out' banner over Tampa NFL stadium

A group of Manchester United supporters based in the United States have flown a banner reading “Glazers Out” over the Raymond James Stadium in Florida.

The banner was seen over the stadium ahead of the Monday Night Football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — the NFL franchise owned by the Glazer family, who also own Premier League giants United.

The banner was organised by Manchester United supporters groups based in Pittsburgh and Tampa. Footage of the plane and its message was shared online before the match, which the Eagles won 25-11.

The move is the latest protest against United’s owners by fans who are keen for them to sell the club.

The Glazer family, who have owned United since 2005, announced last November they were considering “all strategic alternatives, including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions.”

This led to bids being lodged by prospective buyers, but despite receiving several offers, the Glazer family are still yet to make a final decision on whether to sell their stake in the club.

United have failed to win the Premier League since legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, with their last Champions League success coming in 2008.

Former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag was appointed as the club’s new head coach last year. United won the Carabao Cup in Ten Hag’s first season in charge and reached the FA Cup final while securing Champions League football with a third-place finish in the league.

However, United have endured a difficult start to the new season, losing three out of their first six Premier League games.

The United manager’s problems have been exacerbated by several off-field issues.

Brazil winger Antony has agreed to a leave of absence from the club in order to address accusations of abuse made by three women, while fellow winger Jadon Sancho is training away from the first team group following a public spat with the Dutch head coach.

Forward Marcus Rashford walked away unhurt after being involved in a car crash following United’s 1-0 win over Burnley on Saturday.

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Finance expert reveals £300m losses after West Ham United stadium agreement




Football finance expert Kieran Maguire has shared that E20 Stadium LLC has already made losses of over £300million, having signed a long agreement with West Ham United.

E20 had been set up to manage the London Stadium and ensure that the former Olympic Stadium remained integrated with the local area, help with local rejuvenation and create long-term links with local sports clubs to ultimately deliver a financial return.

Part of that deal was seeing the stadium sign a long-term agreement with West Ham for the Irons to use the stadium as their home ground on a 99-year lease that began in 2016, with an initial agreement of £2.5million a year, now £3.5million to use the stadium.

Explaining the state of the contract on The Price of Football (25 September) Maguire said: “They (West Ham) pay the rent for the matches in which they participate. If you take a look at the running costs of E20 Stadium LLC, you will find that the running costs are high because E20 signed what we refer to as an onerous contract.

“Which is where you’re effectively renting out something and you’ve made such a hash of the deal and you’re locked into it for a long period of time. I was looking at the latest E20 accounts and they’ve already made losses of over £300million.

“They had a £7million floodlight upgrade, now West Ham have benefitted from that, but West Ham didn’t have to pay a penny. They’ve got an agreement with UK athletics that when there’s an athletics tournament, is that E20 Stadium are responsible for the reconfiguration of the seats. That costs an absolute fortune.”

For the Hammers, this stadium ownership model is ultimately quite a helpful deal, as they’re getting the benefits of stadium upgrades without having to be the people shelling out the money to build things like new floodlights or take down temporary athletic seating.

Now that also means that West Ham are missing out on the opportunity to rent the stadium out during the off-season and profit from that, as many clubs often do with concerts and fan events following the conclusion of the league campaign.

west ham
There have been suggestions that the Irons would be open to purchasing the stadium in the future, but currently, their high rental costs are still well below what would be required to run the stadium permanently so a deal to purchase would make little sense.

Despite the onerous contract that Maguire explained, the Hammers are the party to benefit from the “hash of the deal,” even if they don’t necessarily own their stadium.

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