I was Jude Bellingham’s teacher back in Birmingham… he taught me more than I taught him | The SunJune 14, 2023
JUDE BELLINGHAM'S old teacher reckons the new Real Madrid star "taught me more than I taught him".
The England star has officially joined Los Blancos from Borussia Dortmund in a deal worth £115million to become the most expensive British player of all time.
His rise to becoming one of the most sought-after players in Europe began at Birmingham, where he made his debut aged just 16.
Micheal Dodds was academy manager at the Blues and helped nurture Bellingham from when he first arrived at St Andrew's as a seven-year-old until he left for Germany ten years later.
He remembers when the midfielder joined Birmingham and "bounced around like Tigger".
Dodds explained to The Times: "One thing with Jude I learnt very quickly is that he was so emotionally intelligent, you couldn’t fluff things up and you couldn’t skirt around things.
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"If it was a difficult conversation, he wanted to have it because he wanted clarity and he wanted the information.
"I was always saying to the staff that whatever you say to him has to be authentic because he will read you like a book.
"He could tell if an adult was lying to him.
“He would openly tell me when my session was poor. He always wanted every session and every game to be better and better and better.
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"I took it as feedback that I hadn’t challenged him appropriately.
“I did an interview for a German magazine and they said that Jude sees me as his mentor. I said it’s funny because I see him as my mentor.
“He taught me more than I taught him in terms of not allowing the arrogance of the coach’s title to blind what you are trying to do.
“There was a period where he didn’t talk to me. I used to have underloaded-overloaded training sessions and I would always put Jude on the underloaded team.
"There was one session where I purposefully tried to push his buttons a bit.
His mentality was: I want to play, forget my age, give me a chance and I will show you I can play.
“He would ask for a foul and I would play on. After that session, he said to his parents, ‘I don’t like Doddsy. I don’t want to go back to the football club.’
"Mum [Denise] and dad [Mark] deserve a huge amount of credit and they said, ‘No, no. You’re fine.’ He actually didn’t talk to me for two months. So we had to have a clear-the-air moment around that.”
Bellingham excelled in Birmingham's youth-teams and demanded to play at a higher level as he was not feeling challenged in the academy.
Dodds said: “He came down to the office looking for me and I thought he was going to beat me up.
"He was fuming. He said, ‘I need to have a chat with you.’
“He’d got sick and tired of hearing, ‘Be patient, Jude. You are 16. Be patient.’
"His mentality was: I want to play, forget my age, give me a chance and I will show you I can play.
"The club wanted to protect him a bit because he had just left school. He wanted to play every minute of every game.
“He unloaded his frustrations on me and said they were using his age as an excuse not to play him. I remember saying to him, ‘Relax.’
“‘No, I am sick and tired of hearing that. I don’t want to hear that. Judge me on my ability and performances.’"
Mark Williams was the caretaker at Bellingham's primary school and used to have to fetch footballs for him that got stuck on the roof.
He would ask for a foul and I would play on. After that session, he said to his parents, ‘I don’t like Doddsy. I don’t want to go back to the football club.'
He told The Independant: "It seemed to be a daily occurrence. Every day the ladders were out. I kept them on standby because of that reason.
"He was a very pleasant lad. He always asked you to get the ball down nicely.
"You could tell then he was quite a good little footballer and he was destined to be."
Bellingham's year two teacher Suzanne Shackleton added: "He was just really a lovely lad. Really genuine. Really personable. Extremely courteous and polite.
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"He was really dedicated to everything he did, not just his sport and football. Across all areas of the curriculum he was well-motivated and tried hard with everything he did.”
A neighbour in Stourbridge where he grew up also recalled that Bellingham and his younger brother Jobe, who is also a wonderkid, used to be constantly playing football together and with their father.
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