Former England head coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has publicly backed former Birmingham City star Jude Bellingham to become better than two Three Lions legends. The 74-year-old, who managed England between 2001 and 2006, believes Bellingham has what it takes to become an all-time great.
It’s a big call to make for a 19-year-old, but Bellingham has shown some really promising signs including a first-ever international goal on his World Cup debut. The midfielder was the star of the show as England swept Iran aside by six goals to two in their first match of Group B.
Having led the Three Lions at three major international tournaments - the 2002 World Cup, UEFA Euro 2004, and the 2006 World Cup - Eriksson is no stranger to big occasions himself, and he believes Bellingham will go on to be a superstar at the highest level.
“Everyone loves having a young player like Bellingham in the team,” Eriksson told Midnite. “He’s extremely difficult to take care of for the opponents. He reminds me of Frank Lampard and Paul Scholes because they had that gift as well. It’s difficult to mark him.
“Bellingham has a brilliant future. He’s brilliant already, but he’ll get better and better with age. He has everything. He can score goals, assist and he can defend. He’s a very complete footballer. I think very soon he will be playing for one of the top clubs in England,” Eriksson continued.
Bellingham has been heavily linked with moves to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City over recent weeks and no wonder. To be compared to Lampard and Scholes, who are nothing short of England all-time greats themselves, is some achievement at his age. This is especially the case when you consider Eriksson managed both Lampard and Scholes during his time with England.
“It’s dangerous to put too much pressure on Bellingham but I really like him because he’s a very elegant player and he can do everything,” Eriksson said. “Who knows, maybe Jude can become better than Lampard and Scholes, but if he can be as good as them then he’ll be a very happy man.”
Bellingham has got a long way to go yet, as Chelsea icon Lampard and Manchester United legend Scholes made 109 and 66 senior England appearances respectively, but he has certainly made a very good start. The boyhood Bluenose is expected to start as the Three Lions play USA on Friday, November 25.