My advice to Jude Bellingham – don’t listen to the hype

Michael Owen celebrates after scoring against Argentina – Michael Owen exclusive: My advice to Jude Bellingham – don’t listen to the hype – Reuters/Grigory Dukor

If anyone can understand how Jude Bellingham’s life will change after his breakout performances for England at the World Cup, it’s Michael Owen, the boy wonder who was catapulted to global stardom in France he 24 years ago.

There are some warnings and advice on potential pitfalls, including making sure he continues to listen to the right people and do the right things on and off the pitch.

There is also caution. Not getting carried away by the hype will be a challenge. And there will be criticism and intense interest in his life that was not there before his return from Qatar.

But the main focus of Owen’s life vision is to enjoy the ride, take it all in and keep playing with the same hunger, spirit and determination that made the Borussia Dortmund star one of the most coveted players in the world.

“When I came back from the World Cup in 1998, my life changed enormously,” he explained. “It wasn’t just about going to the training ground, playing games and going home. There were so many distractions.

“Instead of 20 letters a day, I received thousands from all over the world. There were fan-mail bags and bags. Then you have your agent on the phone saying that Walkers chips and Pepsi want to do things with you. They all want your time, and it can be the day before a game or the day after a game.

“All of a sudden, you have no more life. And you’ll still have your mom nagging at you, reminding you not to forget about your family just because you’re a big star now.

“Jude is going to have to restructure his life and make sure he has people around him who can help him. He had a great World Cup, maybe not the same great moment as me, but we feel a real strength that will be a great player for a long time. He’s going to have similar things, similar challenges and similar pressure.

“The only people he has to worry about are his manager and his team-mates, keep them happy, not anyone else and that should ensure he stays on track to be the player we think he is. ‘it will be for the next decade.’

Owen returned to Liverpool from France as a global star and for the next four or five years was considered one of the best in the world, winning the Ballon d’Or in 2001 – the last English player to do so. do – and secured a transfer to Real. Madrid in 2004.

A succession of injuries finally robbed Owen of his electric rhythm and his powers began to fade well before his 30th birthday during spells at Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City.

But Owen, now 43, believes Bellingham “is a lot more athletic” and won’t have the same frailties, even though he also played as much first-team football as he did as a teenager, after having made his first-team debut for his hometown club. Birmingham City three years ago.

And Owen argued that it’s not what you see in a highlights reel that makes this exciting young midfielder truly special.

“He has attributes that make him a complete midfielder,” explained Owen. “We don’t see him every week because he’s absent in the Bundesliga, but what struck me was how generous he is.

Jude Bellingham - Michael Owen exclusive: My advice to Jude Bellingham - don't listen to the hype - Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

Jude Bellingham – Michael Owen exclusive: My advice to Jude Bellingham – don’t listen to the hype – Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

“By that I mean he’s playing for the team, not himself. He’s almost overdoing it and at first I thought ‘Jeez Jude, you’re wasting energy covering too much ground at because of your inexperience.’

“I was wrong, the more I watch him the more I like the way he plays. A lot of people when they get really good, it almost gets uncool to do the hard work and stuff you don’t really get much for. of praise.

“He’s so grounded, he’s doing good things, making great runs and scoring goals, but when players are making a name for themselves, sometimes they save their energy for the big moments that make the headlines.

“He does what managers and teammates really notice. I hope he keeps the hunger to do all the c—py work so to speak. He works his nuts. I fell in love with him.

Owen can already draw comparisons to one of England’s former big names, former team-mate Steven Gerrard, but he’s not the only one. Bellingham is as dynamic as Bryan Robson or Roy Keane, a jack-of-all-trades like Gary Speed. He can do it all well and is ‘the complete package’ which could well change the way players are trained at academies.

“He breaks that mold of being graded six or eight,” Owen explained. “We have coaches in the academies now telling the kids that’s their position, almost dragging other things out of their game to fit into that rigid position. This has been happening for 20 years.

“Bellingham is different. He can play anywhere in midfield and do it all. In my day you normally played with a midfield two and had to be versatile, but we lost those players because you normally have a midfield three. This requires specific positions because it requires balance.

“I played with one of the best all-around midfielders in Steven Gerrard and six was not his position. If you asked him to do that, you cut off his legs so to speak. So many people can do a six job, few can do it all. Gerrard was too good not to advance, score and create goals. Jude is the same.

Manchester United have already declared their hand, with Bellingham at the top of their summer shopping list. Liverpool have been on his heels for months, Real Madrid are watching him closely and it would be foolish to think Manchester City and Chelsea won’t also try to sign the 19-year-old.

“I think he needs to come back to the Premier League,” added Owen. “He did very well in Germany and made the decision to leave Birmingham when he was very young to have the opportunity to play. Dortmund have a huge trump card in their hands.

“The Premier League is the biggest and best league in the world, it’s just a question of which club can afford it? There aren’t many because he has a special talent. He will be one of the best of the moment. »

Michael Owen will be a pundit for Amazon Prime Video at Manchester United against Nottingham Forest on December 28. Prime Video will show 10 Premier League matches between Boxing Day and December 28, including Arsenal v West Ham United and Leeds United v Manchester City.

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