If Real Madrid fans weren’t already head over heels in love with Jude Bellingham, Saturday’s 95th-minute winner against Getafe — in his first game at the Santiago Bernabeu — sealed the deal. Bellingham has made an effortless start to life in Madrid, with five goals in four games propelling the team to the top of the LaLiga table.
The England midfielder is already a regular on the frontpages in Spain. “Bellingham has no ceiling,” Marca’s headline read on Sunday — ironically, given that the 2-1 win over Getafe saw the stadium’s new roof in use for the first time — while Monday’s Diario AS called him “The new boss of the Bernabeu.”
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)
AS’ effusive columnist Tomas Roncero said Bellingham was “touched by the wand of the football gods” and raved: “He’s got charisma, he’s got presence, he’s got power, he’s got a winner’s body language, and he scores goals.”
The Bernabeu crowd agreed, serenading Bellingham with a rendition of The Beatles’ song “Hey Jude” at the end of the match, a moment the player said gave him goosebumps.
Bellingham has a knack of hitting the ground running. From his first club Birmingham City, to Borussia Dortmund, to England, and now Real Madrid, he’s made a habit of making an instant impression.
ESPN takes a look at the landmark moments in Bellingham’s brief, but brilliant, career so far.
A prodigious talent, Bellingham was fast-tracked into Birmingham’s first team, becoming the club’s youngest-ever player when he made his debut on Aug. 6, 2019 at 16 years and 38 days old. It wasn’t a game to remember — Bellingham played 81 minutes of a 3-0 EFL Cup defeat at Portsmouth, picking up a yellow card — but three weeks later, his home debut made up for that. Bellingham was introduced as a first-half substitute against Stoke City on Aug. 31 and helped inspire a 2-1 comeback, scoring the winner with a fortuitous, deflected shot from outside the box.
His first league start in the Championship then came on Sept. 14. Bellingham had the chance to unveil his now trademark open-armed goal celebration, scoring in the 52nd minute of a 1-0 win at Charlton as he slotted home from near the penalty spot.
Such was Bellingham’s impact in his short time at St Andrew’s that when he left for Dortmund in July 2020 for around €30 million — becoming the most expensive 17-year-old in history — Birmingham retired his No. 22 shirt.
Why Jude Bellingham had to be named ESPN FC’s top U21 star
Julien Laurens explains why there was only one choice for ESPN FC’s top U21 star.
Confounding the doubters who suggested he might struggle to adapt abroad at such a young age, Bellingham took to life at Dortmund — one of Europe’s biggest clubs, with a noisy, passionate fanbase — with ease. The teenager celebrated his debut on Sept.14, 2020 by scoring in a 5-0 DFB-Pokal cup win away at MSV Duisburg.
His Bundesliga debut came at Signal Iduna Park five days later, in a 3-0 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach. Bellingham started and provided the assist for Giovanni Reyna’s opening goal, part of a young, thrilling Dortmund team which also featured Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho.
Bellingham’s leadership qualities were so obvious that just two years later, on Oct. 1, 2022, he captained Dortmund for the first time in a 3-2 defeat to Cologne, becoming the club’s youngest-ever skipper aged 19.
Bellingham’s growing status in Germany made an England call-up inevitable. His international debut came on Nov. 12, 2020 — four months after joining Dortmund — in a 3-0 friendly win over Republic of Ireland at Wembley, when he replaced Mason Mount in the 73rd minute.
Surprisingly, he had to wait two years and eight games before scoring his only senior international goal to date: a headed opener in England’s 6-2 thrashing of Iran at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. But it won’t be the last.
How Jude Bellingham makes Real Madrid ‘play more comfortable’
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti speaks on Jude Bellingham’s LaLiga debut and Éder Militão’s injury as Los Blancos win at Athletic Bilbao.
Bellingham’s €103m move to Madrid — made official on June 14, 2023 — has seen his goal-scoring rate increase exponentially. A tweak from coach Carlo Ancelotti has seen him play as a No. 10, taking up positions closer to goal. The midfielder scored 12 times in three full seasons in the Bundesliga, but already has five goals in four LaLiga games, and hasn’t yet failed to find the net.
With construction work ongoing at the Bernabeu, Bellingham’s first three games came away from home. He scored on his debut on Aug. 12, a 2-0 win at Athletic Club’s hostile San Mames stadium — guiding David Alaba’s cross into the net — and then went one better by grabbing a brace in a 3-1 victory at Almeria.
A close-range header gave Madrid all three points in a 1-0 win at Celta Vigo on Aug. 25, before arguably the highlight to date: Saturday’s home debut. When Getafe goalkeeper David Soria spilled Lucas Vázquez’s shot in added time, Bellingham showed a poacher’s instincts to pounce on the rebound and make it 2-1, sparking jubilant celebrations. There was even a shout of “Vamos!” (“Come on!”) from Bellingham to show that his Spanish lessons are starting to pay off, too.
Since 2000, only Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo and Cesc Fabregas had scored in their first four LaLiga games. Bellingham has now joined that list.
It’s early days, but you get the feeling the milestones will keep coming.