The incredible reason why Jude Bellingham received England squad number 22 for the World Cup

England fans were left surprised when Jude Bellingham was handed squad number 22 for the World Cup - but there’s a special reason behind it concerning Birmingham City.
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England wonderkid Jude Bellingham has been handed squad number 22 as the official list was revealed this week ahead of the FIFA World Cup. The announcement has bemused many Three Lions fans as the former Birmingham City star wasn’t handed a typical starting midfielder’s number, such as 4, 6, 8, or 10 - but there’s a special reason behind the choice.

Bellingham will don the 22 in Qatar on the same basis he has done so at club level for Borussia Dortmund and Birmingham - due to an iconic conversation he had with a youth coach at Blues. Bellingham, who has played every single minute for Dortmund in the Bundesliga this campaign, has become quite the star with 22 on his back.

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Mike Dodds, Birmingham’s Head of Academy, revealed to talkSPORT the chat which led to Bellingham falling in love with being ‘a 22’. “He would have been 13 or 14, and like most boys that age, they want to be a number 10,” Dodds said. “I remember, we sat down with him and we said, ‘we think you’re doing yourself a disservice, we think you can do all of it.’

“So we came up with, ‘we think you can be a 22.’ His eyes lit up and we knew we had hooked him from then on in! We said we thought he could be a holding midfielder, or a four. We thought he could be a box-to-box, which is an eight, and we thought he could be a scorer and a creator, so a 10.

“From the age of 13 onwards he held on to that all the way through and you can see that in his game. He made his debut at Birmingham City and he said, ‘I want my squad number to be 22’ and he said the same thing at Dortmund.”

Bellingham heads to his maiden World Cup at just 19 years of age and is the youngest player named in England’s 26-man squad. Despite his lack of experience, he seems to be a firm selection in conversations about who should start at the tournament.

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In just 27 months since signing for Dortmund from Blues in a £25 million deal, Bellingham has made a staggering 112 appearances, scoring 19 goals and contributing 21 assists. He averages a direct goal involvement once every 213 minutes played - impressive considering he predominantly plays as a fairly deep-lying midfielder.

Jude Bellingham will wear number 22 for England at the FIFA World Cup.Jude Bellingham will wear number 22 for England at the FIFA World Cup.
Jude Bellingham will wear number 22 for England at the FIFA World Cup.

Dodds hopes Bellingham - who has plenty of time still to establish himself as a global superstar - can become an inspiration. “I am hoping kids are going to look at [him] and go, ‘I am going to be the next 22’ and he sets a trend being able to do everything. I genuinely think he can do everything; depending on tactical needs, he can play in all three positions. That is what makes him so unique.”

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