Jude Bellingham described captaining Borussia Dortmund as “the biggest honour of my career so far” as he warned it will be tough to finish off Chelsea in London.
The England midfielder led Dortmund to a 1-0 win in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, with the 19-year-old skippering the hosts as 38-year-old Thiago Silva wore the armband for Chelsea.
The result on Wednesday gave Dortmund a first win over English opposition in the competition since a 2-0 victory against Arsenal in September 2014, halting a winless run of nine games (D1 L8).
Bellingham said of his leadership experience: “I think it comes quite naturally, but for me it’s probably the biggest honour of my career so far, to captain this football club.
“I have brilliant role models like Marco [Reus] and Mats [Hummels], and I know how to carry myself when I see them. They carry themselves so well, so I take a lot of examples from that.
“I know that without the captain’s armband I can still try and lead the team and this is a bit more for show, but we need to all be captains in the second leg. It’s important that we all show up and we all get the job done.”
11 – Borussia Dortmund’s Gregor Kobel has kept 11 clean sheets in 23 matches in all competitions this season, one more than he had in the whole of last season (10 in 40 matches). His seven saves against Chelsea were his most in a #UCL match. Wall. #BVBCHE pic.twitter.com/7rHV7j91Bm
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) February 15, 2023
Bellingham has four goals and an assist for Dortmund in this season’s Champions League, and this form coupled with his maturity has pushed him towards the responsibility Edin Terzic trusted him with on Wednesday.
In October, Bellingham became just the third teenager in history to score in four consecutive Champions League appearances, after Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe.
At the beginning of the same month he captained Dortmund for the first time, in a league clash with Koln.
Former Birmingham City player Bellingham is the leading scorer among midfielders aged under 21 from Europe’s top five leagues this season, with 10 goals.
He told CBS Golazo of his relish for the second leg on March 7 at Stamford Bridge, comparing the first 90 minutes at Signal Iduna Park to what awaits Dortmund when they head to England.
Dortmund have won all seven of their matches in 2023. Beating Premier League opposition, albeit by a slender margin, fuels the anticipation for their next European trip.
“It’s a small win in comparison to the challenge that we’ve got facing us in a few weeks’ time,” Bellingham said. “We’ve got to go to Stamford Bridge and get another positive result.
“We can be really pleased with how we played and especially how we defended in the second half, but we need to understand it’s not over, and they can definitely come back with a lot of power.”
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