Jude Bellingham doesn’t let England down and he’s only making them better, better, better…
The Three Lions weren’t perfect during their 3-0 win over Senegal, but Bellingham’s midfield masterclass in the last 16 clash could well go down as a World Cup performance for the ages.
In a matter of moments the precocious 19-year-old took the game the scruff of the neck to set England on their way to a 2-0 lead at half time.
A great run down the left-hand side was followed up by a excellent cut-back to Jordan Henderson, who slotted Gareth Southgate’s men in front on 38 minutes.
England had their tails up from that point and got their second in the final moments of stoppage-time of the first half with Bellingham again the inspiration.
The Borussia Dortmund stormed through the pitch and played a perfect through ball to Phil Foden, who passed into Harry Kane to slam home his first goal in Qatar.
Bukayo Saka rounded off the win shortly after the break.
Whether England played particularly well or if Senegal were sluggish is up for debate, however, the verdict on Bellingham’s display was unanimous from England players past and present.
On Bellingham’s performance, Man City playmaker Foden said: “I don’t want to big him up too much because he’s still young but he’s one of the most gifted players I’ve ever seen.
“I don’t see a weakness in his game, I think he’s got everything. I’m sure he’s going to be the best midfielder in the world.”
Arsenal ace Saka said: “I always say he’s the future but he’s the present as well. Unbelievable.
“He was everywhere tonight, he was everywhere in the previous three games and I hope he can just keep it up.”
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Captain Kane added: “I think he’s a fantastic player. He has everything with and without the ball. He presses really well, gets around the pitch, tackles.
“With the ball he can run, take players on, play a through ball, and as you saw today he was really important with our goal. I like Jude a lot. He’s a really good person. He’s mature for his age, got great leadership skills.
“All I’d say is to keep learning, keep working. He’s got plenty of years ahead of him and I’m sure he’ll want to keep improving. It’s great to have him with us.”
Meanwhile, former England international Gary Neville said: “It’s very rare you see a midfielder as comfortable on the ball in his own half as he is the attacking half.
“He looks like he can do everything. Is he a holding midfielder, is he an attacking midfielder? He does everything in one.
“He looks like he belongs out there, like he wants it, like he needs it in his life.”
“Physically he’s fantastic. He’s so young but it’s the composure, the maturity and the fearlessness I can’t get my head around. I’ve watched players play for England for many years, the weight of the shirt is enormous. He just doesn’t feel it.”
Former England Women’s star Eniola Aluko said on talkSPORT: “I don’t think he has a ceiling. I don’t think he’s doing what anyone else has done at his age in midfield.
“We’ve got an absolute superstar on our hands. His work rate, even just the little ugly bits – stopping, blocking, fouling, getting tackles in, he does it all. From an attacking point of view he gives England another dimension.
“You need a bit of edge. The best players have edge and I think he has controlled edge.
“I like that bite to him, that bit of grit, that Birmingham grit he’s got!”
And even Roy Keane, the hardest of critics, was left spellbound by what Bellingham produced.
Keane said: “I’ve not seen a young midfielder perform like that for years. You usually see that from a world-class midfielder who’s 26 or 27.
“Everything that he does, what goes on in his brain. He’s like a man, he’s got that maturity in his decision-making.
“End-product, final pass – the kid has everything.”
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