The brilliant story behind why Jude Bellingham wears the no.22 shirt
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The brilliant reason why Jude Bellingham wears the no.22 shirt has been revealed.
Mature beyond his years, the youngster learnt his craft at Birmingham City - who then controversially retired his No.22 after he made just 44 appearances before sealing a £25 million move to Dortmund.
Since moving to Germany, Bellingham has developed into one of the best midfielders in world football.
But the reason he still wears the rather unusual squad number is due to Birmingham telling him from a young age that he did not need to limit himself to one role - and that he could be a No.4, (holding midfielder) No.8 (box-to-box midfielder) and No.10 (attacking midfielder) and play each position at the same level.
Add those digits together and you get 22, Bellingham's preferred number.
"I actually remember his first session as a seven-year-old," Birmingham's head of development Mike Dodds told talkSPORT 2.
"I thought, 'Yeah he's alright, not too bad'. He didn't stand out. It probably wasn't until he got to 13 where you started to go, 'This boy is very good.'"
"He would have been about 13 or 14 and like most boys that age, they want to be a No 10.
"And I remember, we sat down with him and we said, 'we think you're doing yourself a disservice, we think you can do all of it.
"So we came up with, 'we think you can be a 22'.
"His eyes lit up and we knew had hooked him from then on in!
"We said we thought he could be a holding midfielder, or a four. We thought he could be a box-to-box, which is an eight. And we thought he could be a scorer and a creator, so a 10.
"And from the age of 13 onwards he has held on to that all the way through and you can see that in his game.
"He made his debut at Birmingham City and he said, 'I want my squad number to be number 22' and said the same thing at Dortmund.
"He's just as good playing at #4, #8 or #10" 👀@BCFC Head of Development Mike Dodds explains the story behind @BellinghamJude wearing #22.— talkSPORT 2 (@talkSPORT2) April 7, 2021
Would you take Bellingham to #Euro2020? 🏴 pic.twitter.com/skSJ7uj9Uy
"So what I am hoping is that kids are going to look at that and go, 'I am going to be the next 22' and he sets a trend off in terms of being able to do everything.
"I genuinely think he can do everything; I think depending on the tactical needs of the game, he can play in all three positions and I think that is what makes him so unique."
Bellingham's versatility is one of the reasons why he is now being eyed up by a host of big clubs around the world.
The likes of Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Real Madrid are all believed to be interested in signing the 19-year-old in the summer.
Will Dortmund manage to hold on to their star man? Only time will tell.