“He’ll be desperate to play. He won’t be fazed at all.”
Man who fueled Jude Bellingham’s football career from the age of seven says a game against Germany in the knockout stage of a major international tournament is “just the next step in his journey “, and the teenager will only be happy if he is in England’s starting XI for the game.
Birmingham City Academy Director Mike Dodds said Sky Sports News he believes Bellingham will be a staple in England midfielder over the next decade, and he has the perfect frame of mind for such an important game as Wembley on Tuesday.
“This would only be the next stop on his journey,” says Dodds, “which seems to be endless.
“Based on what he’s accomplished in just two seasons, what is he going to look like in 10 years? It’s actually pretty scary.”
England’s round of 16 comes on Bellingham’s 18th birthday.
Dodds says it’s a day when he can come of age in an English shirt, if the opportunity presents itself.
“He will be disappointed if he doesn’t play. He won’t be sitting on that bench thinking ‘what a fantastic opportunity this is. He will be wondering’ why am I not playing? ‘ he explains.
“I’ve handled this throughout his development period. He’s called himself ‘impatient,’ and that’s what he is. He wants the next thing, and the next thing after that.”
Dodds says Bellingham has already proven he takes challenges head-on and never takes the easy way. That’s why he chose a £ 25million transfer to Borussia Dortmund last summer, instead of a club in England.
“He left for Germany at 17, in the middle of a pandemic, far from his family, and to perform at the level where he played speaks volumes,” says Dodds.
“The perfect way to describe his progress at this point is ‘methodical.’ He has planned the next step throughout his career.
“At 16 he could have left the football club (Birmingham) but he didn’t because he knew he had a chance to play in the first team, in the league which is a brutal league.
“He could have gone to the Premier League last summer, or to many other clubs across Europe, but he chose Borussia Dortmund and the proof is in the pudding – he has played over 40 Bundesliga games .
“He entered Gareth’s England squad at the age of 17, and when I have conversations with him his mindset is: ‘I want to play. I want to be in the squad. It’s not: ‘I want to enjoy this experience. I’m really in a good position, I can’t believe I’m here.’ His mindset is “how do I get into the team?” “
Dodds is adamant that if he gets the chance against Germany, he will impress.
“From a football point of view, there is no worry,” he said.
“Some may worry because of his age and the scale of the game. But history is the best predictor of the future, and he has already played in the Champions League quarter-finals against Manchester City, in the German Cup final against a top quality team from RB Leipzig, so he is ready to play in this match if he is called up. “
Dodds says Bellingham’s versatility means he can play anywhere in the English midfielder – and he’s able to fill the ‘number eight’ void left by Mason Mount if, as expected, the Chelsea man missing because he cannot leave quarantine before the morning of the Germany game.
“As a midfielder he can do anything,” said Dodds. “He can do deeper work, he can do box-to-box energy, and he can get the killer to the upper end of the pitch.
“He’s got an amazing mindset, one of the best I’ve ever seen. We put him training with the first team when he was 15 and he didn’t care. He was in. the locker room with senior players and that didn’t bother him in the least.
“Every obstacle that stands in his way, he takes in his stride.”