Jude Bellingham scores England’s opening goal of the 2022 World Cup against Iran

Jude Bellingham marked his maiden World Cup start by scoring England’s opening goal in Qatar against Iran on Monday.

Gareth Southgate elected to hand the 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder his first major tournament start at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

Bellingham has established himself as an important midfield option for England in recent months, winning 17 caps playing under Southgate.

And the teenage midfielder wasted little time in making an impression in Qatar, heading Luke Shaw’s cross beyond Iran’s substitute goalkeeper Hossein Hosseini to break the deadlock.

It was Bellingham’s first goal at senior international level.

Follow live coverage of England vs Iran.


Jude Bellingham profile

One of the criticisms made of British players, a Criticism that goes back many years, is that too few are willing to spread their wings and head out into football’s wide world.

Too few are willing to do what Bellingham did in 2020 and head for somewhere like the German Bundesliga, a competition beyond their comfort zone. Borussia Dortmund were a huge draw for Bellingham, a teenager who had been playing in the English Championship with Birmingham City, but it was not as if the odds of him securing a transfer to the Premier League were low.

If staying in England was the easier option, Bellingham could easily have taken it. Did they make the right call? The best way of answering that is to say that at 19, he has every chance of starting under Gareth Southgate at the World Cup. Kalvin Phillips was ahead of him for a while internationally as half of England’s midfield pair with Declan Rice, but Phillips needed shoulder surgery earlier this season. It feels very much as if Bellingham could be edging ahead in the pecking order.

No wonder, really, when Bellingham’s game is considered.

He is a midfielder without a single defined strength. He can operate in different positions, he can positively influence matches from different positions and he is an attacking Threat in every sense of the phrase, a true all-rounder. That is not to say Bellingham offers nothing defensively but Dortmund have sensibly maximized his impact by allowing him to do what he does best.

His quick feet and craft in congested areas make him particularly good against a low block. His bursts into the opposition penalty box give other players a target to aim for and yield the occasional goal. He is comfortable carrying the ball and likes progressing it upfield.

It was not even as if Dortmund tried to bleed him gently after signing him from Birmingham. He has been front and center for a while now and in terms of the next England generation, he is one of the likely stars of it. His Younger brother Jobe is breaking through at Birmingham too and in time, there might be more to the Bellingham story than Jude alone.

This is an extract from The Radar, The Athletic’s carefully crafted guide to some of the best footballers on show in Qatar listed alphabetically by country — the heavyweight names, the rising stars and the under-the-radar players who could be coming to an elite club near you.

Read it here.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

The Radar – The Athletic’s 2022 World Cup Scouting guide

(Photo: Getty Images)

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