Jude Bellingham hails Gareth Southgate for ‘amazing’ job with England youngsters

Jude Bellingham is full of praise for Gareth Southgate (Nick Potts/PA)
Jude Bellingham is full of praise for Gareth Southgate (Nick Potts/PA)

Real Madrid new boy Jude Bellingham has praised England manager Gareth Southgate for the “amazing job” he has done in easing him into the set-up and aiding the ascension of fellow young stars.

With talent and maturity that belies his tender years, the nascent 19-year-old midfielder has established himself as a key player for the national team and has two major tournaments under his belt.

Bellingham has won 24 caps under Southgate and only a knee injury has prevented the England star from adding to that tally in the upcoming Euro 2024 qualification double-header against Malta and North Macedonia.

Jude Bellingham is full of praise for Gareth Southgate
Jude Bellingham is full of praise for Gareth Southgate (Nick Potts/PA)

“I think Gareth has done an amazing job in easing me in,” Bellingham – who completed his move from Borussia Dortmund to Real Madrid on Wednesday – told the PA news agency.

“I think England as a country are famous for kind of getting carried away, if you like, with players, with teams.

“You know, they like to put a lot of pressure on people early. I feel like I’m starting to get that now.

“And I do believe I can handle it but it’s also Gareth being aware that he has to manage it as well as part of his job.

“I think he’s doing an amazing job with myself and the other young players – you know, Bukayo (Saka), Phil (Foden), Marcus (Rashford) – of managing the expectation around us.

“If that means that we don’t play every game or we’re eased in, then so be it. But now I think my place in the team is really enjoyable because I’m playing most games and I feel like I am making a positive impact.”

Bellingham has only completed eight of his 24 England appearances to date but he appreciates Southgate’s approach.

Furthermore, the midfielder – speaking in his role as a McDonald’s Fun Football ambassador, a programme that offers free and inclusive football coaching for children aged five to 11 across more than 1,500 locations in the UK – believes the manager’s approach is complemented by the group’s experienced players.

“They’re willing to take the pressure away from us, you know, Harry Kane, Hendo [Jordan Henderson],” Bellingham said recently.

“I wouldn’t say they shield us, but they definitely help us kind of understand the pressure and know when to kind of put us in it and take us out of it and keep us level-headed.

“I think everyone at the set-up does a great job of easing everyone in and, like I said, making us all feel comfortable when we go into games, especially big ones.”

Bellingham says he is “picking from everyone’s brains and everyone’s skillset” when he is away with England as the laser-focused teenager looks to kick on.

The leaders he is around, like Liverpool skipper Henderson and West Ham captain Declan Rice in midfield, mean the 19-year-old cannot fail to learn.

Jude Bellingham watched training at St George's Park on Tuesday as he is not fit to feature
Jude Bellingham watched training at St George’s Park on Tuesday as he is not fit to feature (Nick Potts/PA)

There are plenty of other leaders in the squad too, including long-standing England skipper and all-time top scorer Kane.

“When times are tough and when the chips are down, really, I feel like that’s when you really see what your leaders are made of,” Bellingham said.

“I think H, you look for example, the penalties against France. I think whilst he missed one, there’s a flipside where at no point did you ever think he was going to shy away from the responsibility.

“I think you see that kind of fearlessness from someone like him and you just respect it so much, and you think that’s the kind of player that you want to be.

Jude Bellingham admires England captain Harry Kane
Jude Bellingham admires England captain Harry Kane (Martin Rickett/PA)

“As soon as the penalty was given, the only person we looked to was H and that’s the kind of status that he’s built by delivering in big moments.

“That’s the kind of level that I want to reach in terms of where my team-mates look at me to deliver for them, a little bit like they do at times at Dortmund.

“I’m always thinking about how I can help the team and if that’s being a leader then so be it.”

Put to Bellingham there was no doubt Kane would step up to score his spot-kick against Italy despite missing a key penalty in the World Cup exit to France months earlier, he said: “Exactly.

Jude Bellingham is an ambassador for the McDonald’s Fun Football programme
Jude Bellingham is an ambassador for the McDonald’s Fun Football programme (Matthew Pover/McDonald’s handout/PA)

“And that’s the thing, you know, after he missed the big one of the World Cup, like I said again, he didn’t shy away against one of the better goalies in the world.

“He stands up and he takes it again and for the record he scores it. That’s what I mean by being a leader.

“Taking the adversity, taking I wouldn’t call it failure but the setback, if you like, and responding like he always has.

“I think that’s something we’ve all got to take examples from when we go to tournaments in the future.”

:: Jude Bellingham was speaking at a McDonald’s Fun Football session to announce his role as an ambassador for the UK’s largest grassroots participation programme for 5-11 year-olds. Find your nearest free session at