Jude Bellingham can be a World Cup star for England next year, according to fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson: ‘He already is a top player but he’ll go from strength to strength in the next years’
- Jude Bellingham was one of England’s standout players in their win on Sunday
- The teenage star only played an hour of the rout against Andorra at Wembley
- But he impressed with his composure, maturity and natural ability on the pitch
- Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson praised him as an ‘outstanding’ player
Jordan Henderson has urged Jude Bellingham to keep listening and learning to maximise his chances of becoming a key player for England.
The Borussia Dortmund midfielder only played 60 minutes of Sunday’s 4-0 procession against Andorra but his efforts, once again, stamped him as a prodigious talent. It was not what Bellingham did to limited opponents but the natural and easy way in which he did it that grabbed the attention.
Alongside him, Henderson was winning his 66th cap. The Liverpool midfielder has been in the England set-up since 2010 and has seen plenty of players come and go, but what has struck him most about Bellingham is the 18-year-old’s character.
Jordan Henderson has backed Jude Bellingham (above) to shine for England at the World Cup
The Borussia Dortmund midfielder (left) impressed against Andorra at Wembley on Sunday
He was subjected to racist abuse on Thursday in Budapest but there was no hangover from that ordeal. Bellingham’s play was carefree and spontaneous on Sunday, with a couple of drag-backs getting whoops from the crowd as he turned Andorran pursuers inside out.
In the match programme, Gareth Southgate described Bellingham as ‘someone who is going to be an important player for us’ and Henderson is of the same opinion. From what he has seen in the time they have worked together, this is a young man going places quickly.
‘Jude is a fantastic player,’ said Henderson, who does not usually hand out compliments so readily. ‘Even at such a young age, he shows fantastic maturity on and off the field. You can see how hungry he is to be a top player and has all the attributes to do that.
Liverpool star Henderson (above) urged him to keep learning to make the most of his talents
‘I tried to help as much as I could but, to be honest, he is a top player who has shown that in the big games for Dortmund. I see him going from strength to strength all the time. I don’t want to praise him too much and put too much pressure on him but he’s got a very good head on his shoulders.
‘I’m told he has good people around him and a good family, and you can see that is an important part of him. I think he will be a top player going forward. I watch him for Dortmund and the way he performs is outstanding.’
To give context to what Bellingham has achieved so far in his career — winning the German Cup, scoring in a Champions League quarter-final and thriving in a foreign country — Henderson raised a smile when he was reminded that he joined Coventry on loan at the same age.
Age, though, is just a number and there is no set path to reach the top in football. Henderson made it to the summit when he lifted the Champions League and Premier League trophies for Liverpool, and he has no doubt Bellingham has the capabilities to scale similar peaks. ‘He is miles ahead of me when I was that age,’ said Henderson.
‘I’d say for him to just keep doing what he’s doing. Keep working hard every day in training, stay focused on what you want to achieve. He’s already got that and good people around him.
Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate (right) praised his maturity after the Andorra match
‘I’d say just keep your feet on the ground and concentrate on football. If he does that and stays fit, he’ll be a top player. He already is a top player but he’ll go from strength to strength in the next years. Could he make an impact at the World Cup? He could, to be honest. He looks ready to be playing in the big games.
‘Against Andorra, he really showed what he can bring. A year down the line, he is only going to get better so he would look to have a big influence at the World Cup, for sure.’
The irony is that Bellingham’s progress, the return of Phil Foden and the form of Declan Rice, Mason Mount and Kalvin Phillips means there is pressure on Henderson’s position. He is a leader in Southgate’s group but starts are no longer guaranteed.
‘You have to give credit to the lads that did so well in the summer,’ said Henderson. ‘I’ll just keep working hard and be ready whenever called upon.’
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