Jude Bellingham uses pain of England’s near misses in bid for Euro 2024 glory

Jude Bellingham uses pain of England’s near misses in bid for Euro 2024 glory

Jude Bellingham says he is harnessing the pain of England’s near misses as the talented teenager homes in on European Championship glory next summer.

The national team are in the midst of their most successful period since Sir Alf Ramsey led Bobby Moore’s heroes to World Cup glory in 1966.

The surprising run to the 2018 semi-finals in Russia was followed by manager Gareth Southgate leading England to a first European Championship final two years ago.

Jude Bellingham played a starring role for England at the World Cup
Jude Bellingham (left) played a starring role for England at the World Cup (Mike Egerton/PA)

Bellingham’s first tournament ended in an agonising shoot-out defeat to Italy at Wembley and his maiden World Cup ended in a galling quarter-final exit to France in December.

But now attention turns to their quest for Euros glory in Germany next summer – a tournament England will take a giant step towards by winning June’s qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia.

Bellingham, who is closing in on a move to Real Madrid after Borussia Dortmund accepted their offer, will play no part in those matches due to a knee injury, yet he still reported to St George’s Park as he continues rehabilitation.

“We’ve got to attack the qualifiers with the same mentality as we attack major tournaments,” Bellingham recently told the PA news agency.

“The last three (tournaments), I’d say, we’ve been pretty successful. The last one was a bit disappointing, but we probably played a harder opponent than the previous ones.

“The way we went out was disappointing, but you take confidence in the fact that you can go toe-to-toe with one of the better teams in Europe.

“It stands you in good stead when you know there’s not many better teams on paper – you’d like to think – that are better than us.

“So, you take that confidence and you take the experience that we’ve gained from the last few.

“The goal is always to try and win it. That should be the goal for all of us going into it and that’s what we’ll try and do.”

Bellingham does not lack confidence and nor should he given England’s performances in Qatar.

England suffered a narrow World Cup quarter-final defeat to France in Qatar
England suffered a narrow World Cup quarter-final defeat to France in Qatar (Nick Potts/PA)

A narrow defeat to eventual finalists and Euro 2024 favourites France did for Southgate’s side in the desert, where the midfielder says their progress was no mirage.

“I felt so confident going into that France game that we’d get a result,” said Bellingham, speaking in his role as ambassador for McDonald’s Fun Football programme – which provides free, inclusive football coaching for children aged five to 11 across more than 1,500 locations in the UK.

“I think probably we fell short in the big moments for their goals and obviously the penalties and moments like that.

“The majority of the game we didn’t have clear chances, but when we did, we could have been a bit more decisive maybe. But, like I said, it’s an experience to take into the next ones.

“I just really enjoyed the experience as a whole – relishing being away, playing in such a good team, having that pressure on me and on the team. It’s something that I really enjoyed.”

Jude Bellingham got a first taste of major tournament football at rearranged Euro 2020
Jude Bellingham (left) got a first taste of major tournament football at the rearranged Euro 2020 (Nick Potts/PA)

Bellingham underlined his place as one of the greatest talents in the world in Qatar, flourishing in England’s midfield after a restricted but valuable role at Euro 2020.

Aged 17 he became the youngest English player to feature in a major tournament, making three substitute appearances in a crash course summer of learning.

“It was a bit of weird one for me because I didn’t play (much),” Bellingham said. “It was my first major tournament and I didn’t play too much.

“But I was still like a sponge while I was there, trying to learn from everything that was going on around me, having it in England as well.

“You could see the pressure up close almost and you went to the games and the atmosphere was incredible. We fell short at the final hurdle, so you take a lot of experience from that.

“But there’s also a level of…not regret but motivation that you can take from the tournament.

Jude Bellingham is an ambassador for the McDonald’s Fun Football programme
Jude Bellingham is an ambassador for the McDonald’s Fun Football programme (Matthew Pover/McDonald’s handout/PA)

“I think, for me, the pain that I felt after that final and after the World Cup will definitely drive me in the tournaments to come.”

You certainly would not back against ambitious Bellingham and his talented England team-mates as they look to finally land silverware in Germany.

“I’d just say stick with us, really,” the 24-cap teenager said when asked what his message to supporters would be.

“England fans can feel it themselves, They’re ambitious, but they’re not stupid. There’s a reason for the kind of expectation and the hype around the team at the minute.

“The truth is that we are delivering. We’d like to deliver a trophy and a tournament win, of course, but I think there’s steps to doing that.

“A lot of the great international teams in the past didn’t win straight away. They had to build for years before they managed to get over the line.

“I think that there’s something similar happening with this England team now. I wouldn’t say patience is the word but just stick with us because we’ll deliver.”

:: Jude Bellingham was speaking at a McDonald’s Fun Football session to announce his role as an ambassador for the UK’s largest grassroots participation programme for 5-11 year olds. Find your nearest free session at www.mcdonalds.co.uk/football.