From academy graduate to playing on the continent, in the Champions League and making his England debut. Safe to say that Jude Bellingham is in his own footballing Utopia right now – long may it continue – and he rightly took his place in our new special edition print publication – ‘SoccerBible Volumes’, which kicked off with our Summer ‘21 ‘Utopia’ edition.

Never has there been a player more ready, more understanding and more appreciative of his environment than Jude Bellingham. That’s how one conversation with this international sensation will make you feel. Wise and wonderful, here’s to a talent who is already one of the most sought after players on the planet.

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If interviews paint a picture of who you are, you’re an outstanding speaker. Very level headed – where does that quality come from?

I feel comfortable speaking in interviews, I'd like to think I know what I'm talking about. Luckily I'm surrounded by intelligent people like my parents who keep me grounded, so speaking to them everyday helps me massively.

Your parents, your family – football has been with you since early doors hasn’t it? What did you take from watching your dad play?

I always loved going to watch my dad play, it wasn't necessarily a very high level, but the lads who played had a real obvious love for the game and genuine passion. I feel that certainly rubbed off on me and to this day I take that love and passion into every game with me.

Being in control on the pitch, similarly off it in the way you hold yourself, is that how you would describe yourself?

Yeah I like to know what's going on, it makes me feel more relaxed and helps me to focus on what's important and what doesn't need to be a priority. Essentially I'm a professional footballer, my performance comes first over everything.

What’s your outlook on the world like – you come across as a thinker, with a strong mind – is that fair to say?

Definitely, I like to watch stuff about what's going on in the world and then make my own opinion on it. Again it helps having people in my life that I can bounce those ideas off and hear their points of view. I try to take that same attitude into my football when reviewing my own game and learning from others.

You must be sick of people saying “you’re so young”. On the flip side, how exciting is the prospect of having a relatively blank canvas of a career? You can now turn your career into whatever you like…

Honestly, I don't really like it. I want to be judged the same as everyone else regardless of my age and let my football do the talking. I'm focused on the next game rather than the next 5 or 10 years. Hopefully this will take the pressure off my mind and also help to positively shape my future.

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You don't realise how much your acknowledgement means to some people because to me I'm just playing football, something I love."

Not to stick on the youth side of things but what did you have in your mindset that has helped you get where you have, when you have? Talent is one thing but you need the mental strength too...

I've always been obsessed with getting better, I try not to become satisfied with being at a certain level and I think you can see that in my development. I always want to try and attack the next challenge straight after overcoming the last one, I've always been that way especially when I was in the academy at Birmingham City.

At the same time as you achieve so much, you must have friends at this decisive age, perhaps back at Birmingham who are being told they don’t have a professional contract – what’s that been like to see?

It's not nice to see especially when they have been at the academy for years, working really hard because I know how it feels to really want to be a professional footballer and can't imagine what it would be like to not get the opportunity to become one.

Do you use that as motivation and a drive to push you even further?

Yes a little bit, it's a reminder that I need to keep focused and keep working hard because there is still a long way to go. 

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I never thought I'd get the opportunity to play for my country so early in my career, I was happy to be a fan for a few more years. Now that it's here I just want to take it in my stride and if I'm given the opportunity, aim high."

You go from the academy, through to a move to Dortmund, with an England debut in the mix, all in such a rapid time – that's a lot to manage mentally. How have you processed all these milestones?

I don't like to dwell on achievements or milestones. As I said I'm always looking towards the next one. I don't want to spend all my time reflecting on what I've done in the past because my game could suffer as a result. My friends and especially my parents and little brother, Jobe, keep me humble and hungry to achieve more.

Have you been able to take five and realise the progress you’ve made?

Not at all, after a game is finished I like to review it, learn and then move on within a few hours. After that it's all about preparing for the next one. Maybe when I get some time off this summer I'll look back at some of the photos and videos and review my progress. Perhaps it will make me appreciate some of the good moments more.

Your journey is such a strong message and driving force for the next generation. Before you knew it, you again went from academy to role model in no time. How ready for that step emotionally were you?

I suppose it's crazy in that sense, I never wanted to be a footballer just to be a role model, it's kind of just happened naturally from supporters. Now that there are some people who see me in that light I don't do anything extra or over the top I just be myself and act in a way that I believe is correct based on how I was raised.

A fan gets a personal message from you and it can probably make their year. Is it strange to now have that effect on people?

It's funny because that's something I always think when I see those messages. You don't realise how much your acknowledgement means to some people because to me I'm just playing football, something I love. It's amazing to bring that much joy to people, which is why I try to interact with people who support me as much as I possibly can.

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I have experienced the Westfalen with limited fans at the start of the season and it was some buzz, so that's made me even more eager to feel that thrill when it's full of 80,000 fans."

A lot of pressure and a deep question so soon into your career but do you already start to think about how you can use your profile to change society and the game?

Within football I like the idea of changing people's opinion on young players. If you're good enough you're old enough and you never know what can be achieved until a talented young player is simply given a chance to perform … I think I'm a good example of that.

In terms of society, I think it's important to use the platform I've gained to raise awareness of certain issues and help charities that aim to improve the lives of those who are less fortunate. I've been very lucky to have got the opportunities that I have so it's important to give back where I can especially to those that haven't had the same opportunity or luck.

On the pitch, when playing in front of fans, you’ve always been one to try and get the supporters going – you genuinely look so comfortable playing in a high pressure environment. How much do you love being on the pitch?

I love the feeling of pressure on the pitch, especially when it is created by the atmosphere of the fans. It helps to focus me and put me in the right mindset. Sometimes the roar from the fans just raises my adrenalin and that's why I do the hand gestures to gee them up. Obviously doing my job on the pitch comes first, but I want to entertain as well, that’s just how I play the game. It's a privilege to be out there playing professional football so I never take it for granted. 

Obviously the Birmingham City fans loved to see you so passionate. You must be desperate to have another taste of the Yellow Wall in Dortmund now. How would you describe that roar?

I absolutely love the Birmingham City fans, even now because i feel like one of them … we had that connection straight away. Obviously I'm looking forward to building that similar bond with the BVB fans when the Westfalen is full again soon. I have experienced it with limited fans at the start of the season and it was some buzz, so that's made me even more eager to feel that thrill when it's full of 80,000 fans.

You had such pride playing for Birmingham City. Now being able to represent your country – that’s got to be almost indescribable… but give it a go – try and describe what playing for England is like?

It's one of the biggest honours in life, let alone football because the opportunity is so rare and you're representing so many. Because of how diverse England is it means the squad is as well, it's almost like every player is representing their own area as well as the country, which is great for me because it gives me a chance to continue to champion and represent Birmingham and all the Brummies and make them proud.

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Better yet, not just being a fan of England but wanting to win – what’s the shift like to go from fan watching in say 2018 to now a player, looking to lift silverware?

Very surreal to be honest. I never thought I'd get the opportunity to play for my country so early in my career, I was happy to be a fan for a few more years. Now that it's here I just want to take it in my stride and if I'm given the opportunity, aim high, but we'll see what the future holds.

How did you enjoy previous experiences? How did you watch the World Cup in 2018?

My first proper experience of supporting England was the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. I loved the whole vibe and feeling of that summer and 2018 was very similar in that sense because the team did so well. I always enjoy watching major tournaments with my friends and family. Watching the team get close but not quite there in 2018 definitely gave me more hunger to one day help the team to win.

You now have the power to make pints fly. How much do you want to see that happen?

It would be a dream come true, definitely something I would like to achieve in the future.

So much talent in the England squad right now – you included – how much do you buzz off just seeing other players with such talent and do you ever see things in training that you’re just in awe of?

Not so much in 'awe' but I really enjoy competing with them and testing my skills against theirs whilst also learning as much as i can from them. I think it's really valuable for my development because of how talented they are.

Who have you learnt most from in the England set up and who are you closest with? What do you have most in common?

Jadon (Sancho), obviously being teammates at the same club and having had similar routes into the England squad. At both Dortmund and England he's taken me under his wing a bit and offered me good advice. Obviously I'm very grateful that someone with his quality and experience has gone out of their way to help me.

Where do you look for inspiration? Whether it’s musicians or other athletes – whose career would you like to emulate in some way?

Definitely other athletes, I love watching stuff on youtube about their career paths, their professionalism and the adversities that elite athletes have had to face whether its in football, basketball, NFL, MMA. There's so much I can take from them and they have certainly influenced the way I carry myself as an athlete.

The first five years as a senior pro. How do you want to make an impact in that time?

I just want to be the best version of Jude Bellingham I can possibly be in each and every training session and match, that way I'll always be improving and won't have to put pressure on myself to be a certain player in five years time. The ultimate goal of every single footballer is to win and I'm no different in that respect.

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