Mike Dodds helped to put the England international on a path to stardom, with the youngster talked away from being another No.10
The reason for Jude Bellingham favouring No.22 has been revealed by Birmingham’s head of academy, Mike Dodds, with football mathematics leading a hot prospect to take on a shirt that he is now synonymous with.
While making his way through the youth ranks at St Andrew’s, the current Borussia Dortmund star wanted to become a No.10 and follow in the illustrious footsteps of many that have donned that jersey before him.
Bellingham, who is a senior England international at just 17 years of age, was talked into going for 22, though, once it was put to him that he combines the qualities of three positions.
What has been said?
Dodds has told talkSPORT: “He would have been about 13 or 14 and like most boys that age, they want to be a number 10.
“And 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′.
“His eyes lit up and we knew 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.”
The bigger picture
Bellingham has, after making a high-profile move to Dortmund, retained the No.22 jersey since switching clubs.
He has made an immediate impression in German football, with 37 appearances taken in across all competitions for BVB.
Those back in Birmingham are among those keeping a close eye on the development of a hot prospect that is expected to figure in Gareth Southgate’s plans for this summer’s European Championship.
Bellingham will forever hold a special place in the hearts of those at St Andrew’s, with the Blues retiring their No.22 shirt on the back of a home-grown star leaving their books after just 44 first-team outings.