Jude Bellingham has been taking the soccer world by storm. The 20-year-old won the hearts of the Birmingham City locals by impressing as a 16-year-old, with the Midlands club going on to retire the number 22 jersey in his honor.
Since leaving Birmingham, his local club, at the age of 17, Bellingham flourished for Borussia Dortmund across his three-year spell at the Bundesliga side, standing out as one of the best players in Germany, scoring 12 goals in 92 appearances and winning the DFB Pokal in 2020-21.
Bellingham’s impressive performances for Dortmund were noticed all over the world and many started to pay attention to the young Englishman who earned a first call-up to the England national team, where he made his debut at 17, the third youngest in England history after Theo Walcott and Wayne Rooney.
The young midfield star then featured at the European Championships in 2021, being the youngest Englishman to play at a major tournament, just 16 days before his 18th birthday.
His first goal for England came at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where Bellingham truly stood out and announced himself as one of the country’s best players.
At 19 years old, Bellingham had the world at his feet and every club in world soccer was after his signature. He opted for Real Madrid, the most prestigious club in world soccer, who forked out $110 million to sign him.
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The youngster has hit the ground running at the Santiago Bernabeu, netting seven goals in just eight appearances, including an injury-time winner in Real Madrid’s opening group fixture in the UEFA Champions League against Union Berlin.
The Real Madrid fans are already chanting Bellingham’s name at the Bernabeu and copying his iconic celebration, a testament to the quality of the player.
The young ‘galactico’ is already making a name for himself as one of the best players in the world, but the sky is the limit, and his marketability will only increase as the years go by, making it clear that Bellingham is likely to be England’s new poster boy for years to come.
Could Bellingham be the new David Beckham?
With the way Bellingham’s career is shaping up, there are many similarities to David Beckham, England’s poster boy for many years.
The great Englishman emerged as a gifted youngster at Manchester United and quickly became a sensation for England, earning his own move to Real Madrid and becoming one of the galacticos.
His famous moments in an English shirt include getting sent off at the 1998 World Cup against Argentina before England crashed out, which saw him receive abuse from some England fans.
But after being named captain in 2001 and dragging England to the World Cup in 2002 after a sensational free-kick against Greece, he quickly won the hearts of all England fans.
Off the pitch, Beckham was praised for his style and aura, earning him many modeling shoots and sponsorship deals, further enhancing his marketability and poster boy status.
It can be argued that most of Beckham’s fame has now come from off the pitch, as he is today a well-known businessman, spokesperson, model, and cover guy, as well as a talented ex-soccer player. With an Instagram following of 83 million, the Inter Miami owner has created an immense platform for himself.
Bellingham may not follow in the footsteps of Beckham, who always surrounded his life with celebrity culture, but the fame and popularity around the English youngster could make him England’s most marketable player.
According to the GlobalData Intelligence Centre, Bellingham currently earns $3 million annually from sponsors, with all the money coming from his sole sponsor, adidas.
This is undoubtedly going to grow and we could see Bellingham earn hundreds of millions as brands aim to partner with the youngster, especially after his move to Real Madrid.
Over David Beckham’s career, he has partnered with many lucrative brands, including Tudor, Maserati, Samsung, Pepsi, and Jaguar, to name a few. The ex-soccer player signed a lifetime deal with adidas in 2003, the year he made his move to the Spanish capital, earning a reported $160 million alone.
He also signed a $15 million-a-year deal to promote Qatar around the time of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which sparked controversy with many fans in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
The two differ in their soccer skillsets, with Beckham being more technical and specializing in passing and set pieces, whilst Bellingham’s physically imposing style sees the young Englishman carry the ball with pace and power as he looks to attack the box.
However, Bellingham is already thought to be a Ballon d’Or contender in years to come and could be the first English player to win it since Michael Owen in 2001.
His potential has no limits and likewise, his marketability has the potential to see Bellingham become a global celebrity – if the 20-year-old chooses to build his celebrity status, like Beckham did.
Regardless, Bellingham is and will continue to be the face of English soccer, with the hope that he can help deliver much-anticipated success for the national team.
Image: Stu Forster/Getty Images