Tuesday, June 25, 2024

´It´s a phenomenal year´ – Southgate salutes Bellingham after Champions League triumph

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 2 Jun 2024

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Gareth Southgate was delighted to see Jude Bellingham crown a “phenomenal year” by helping Real Madrid to Champions League glory at Wembley.

Los Blancos completed the double with a 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the final, having also regained their LaLiga crown after finishing 10 points clear of rivals Barcelona in second place.

It capped a memorable maiden season at Santiago Bernabeu for Bellingham, who was named LaLiga’s Player of the Year after scoring 19 goals in the Spanish top flight – a tally only bettered by Girona’s Artem Dovbyk (24) and Alexander Sorloth of Villarreal (23).

The midfielder also netted four times in the Champions League, while providing the assist for Vinicius Junior to score the decisive second goal against Dortmund on Saturday.

And Southgate has been thrilled by the 20-year-old’s exploits this term.

“It’s an incredible year for him,” Southgate told reporters ahead of England’s Euro 2024 warm-up match against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Monday.

“To cap that season with winning the Champions League, it’s a phenomenal year, and I’m delighted for him.

“His family have to take credit for that. The way he is authentic in interviews, that’s how he is. The way he reacts with staff and players, he has the humility and understanding.

“He had to earn the respect of people like [Luka] Modric and [Toni] Kroos, he went on to attack that challenge.”

England team-mate Kieran Trippier concurred: “He doesn’t seem like a 20-year-old. He’s so mature for his age. He’s taken it in his stride and all the boys are absolutely delighted for him – not just [for winning] the Champions League, but the season he has had.”

Bellingham will miss the Three Lions’ penultimate match before the European Championship as he enjoys a much-needed rest, but will link up with the squad before they travel to Germany.

England, who will play Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia in Group C, are among the favourites to go all the way at the tournament, and Southgate knows this is an important period of recuperation for his star midfielder.

“The most important thing is rest, recovery at this moment, for Jude and for the team,” he added. “Have time with his family, clear his head.

“He’s played right to the end [of the season]. He’s super professional, so he’s going to physically tick over, but we need to see him before next Saturday.”

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