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Jude Bellingham of England celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the Uefa Euro 2024 group stage against Serbia at Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, June 16 2024. Picture: KEVIN C COX/GETTY IMAGES
Jude Bellingham of England celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the Uefa Euro 2024 group stage against Serbia at Arena AufSchalke in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, June 16 2024. Picture: KEVIN C COX/GETTY IMAGES

Gelsenkirchen — Pegged as the man to lead England to glory, Jude Bellingham duly delivered on Sunday against Serbia at Euro 2024 with a first-half master class that drew rave reviews from fans and pundits alike, amid an otherwise sub-par Three Lions performance.

The 20-year-old's powerful 13th-minute header made the difference in an unconvincing 1-0 win that put England atop Group C, but it was his swagger and sheer dominance that earned the Real Madrid midfielder high praise.

“He’s come out there today with the attitude of: listen, guys, this is my game, and I am him,” former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand said on BBC. “The way he's gesturing, shoulders back, just the way he walks around the pitch, makes you think this guy knows, believes and understands that he is the guy.”

European media similarly praised the midfielder, but were less kind to the rest of the England squad, whose lack of composure in the second half threatened their victory.

German outlet BILD called Bellingham “the only one who stands out”, while Spanish sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo wrote that England “were dull” and that there was “Bellingham and little else” to celebrate.

Under the headline “Without roaring with pleasure”, French sports newspaper L'Equipe criticised the Three Lions’ “disappointing performance overall, notably marked by a drop in intensity in the second half”.

They gave centre back John Stones an underwhelming 3 out of 10 overall and even captain and striker Harry Kane only got 5.

While England's opener may have made their fans sweat, the supporters’ love affair with Bellingham continues to flourish.

There was a moment on Sunday when Bellingham was seen shouting in the face of Serbia’s Filip Kostic before giving the Serb a shove with his shoulder. Fans quickly took to social media to sing Bellingham’s praises.

“The Jude Bellingham shoulder barge needs to go into the Louvre,” one supporter wrote on X. “Love it!”

Another wrote: “That shoulder barge from Bellingham is why I love him... letting ’em know they’re in a game.”

“This is what you want, drag us through to the final Jude lad,” posted another.

Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards was hopeful that Bellingham could finally carry England — looking for their first major tournament trophy in 58 years — across the line.

“His character is what I’d say about him, his mentality, he’s got that swagger where he wants to be the main man in the team,” Richards said. “If he can keep this form throughout the tournament, he’s the person that we can rely on.”

Reuters

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