Perhaps unlucky to finish as low as 18th in the Ballon d’Or rankings, but there was no doubting Jude Bellingham was going to win this year’s Golden Boy award.
It was inevitable who was going to win the prestigious prize, and not just because it was announced who’d won hours before Bellingham got his hands on the trophy.
A spectacular year has seen the Stourbridge boy done good become the main man at Real Madrid, the world’s biggest football club, while England fans are already pinning their hopes on him helping England to Euro 2024 glory next summer.
And why wouldn’t so many people look to him? He’s yet to win a league title, although Borussia Dortmund’s bottling of the Bundesliga title last season was far from his fault having been thrown on in desperation in the closing stages of their final day disappointment while quite clearly carrying an injury.
It’s all gone right for Bellingham since completing his £88million move to Real Madrid in the summer. He’s scored 15 goals in 17 appearances for Los Blancos, and is already breaking records by the illustrious club’s greatest ever player in Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo never won the Golden Boy, but plenty of those who have gone on to achieve so much in the game did, including Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Wayne Rooney.
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Bellingham is also in the same company of 2010 winner Mario Balotelli and 2015 champ Anthony Martial, whose careers have not worked out like many believed would.
However, judging by his comments upon receiving the award, Bellingham won’t go down the same path as Balotelli and Martial.
“I’m proud to win the Golden Boy Award,” he said.
“My secret is the responsibility since I was a kid in the Academy. I love that.
“I want to get better every day and help Real Madrid. My focus is on that.
“Real Madrid is the best club in the world. I’m proud to play for Madrid. I want to win all the trophies with my club and the England national team.”
“I’m very lucky to be fair, I’ve played with some amazing players since I’ve started playing football and I’ve just stolen loads of little techniques off them,” he added.
“I can’t be more grateful for all the people I’ve met along the way that have helped me get to the point that I’m at now.
“It’s about trying to make my team and my country the best teams in the world.
“I think to be the best player in the world it’s what you have to do, you have to help your teams win.”
As per, more humility from European football’s poster boy. But his ideals on what it takes to become the best out there also gives insight into the self-assurance the 20-year-old midfielder possesses.
One gets the sense that Lionel Messi’s record-breaking eighth Ballon d’Or is the final chapter of an era where he shared the stage with fellow icon Cristiano Ronaldo.
The new age will see Mbappe and Haaland dine at the top table, and the events of this season surely confirm to any doubters (if there are any that exist), that Bellingham will be sat right next to them.