Jordan Henderson believes “the sky is the limit” for his England teammate Jude Bellingham.
Few players in recent years have generated as much excitement and expectation as Bellingham at such an early point in their career.
At 18, he already has the world at his feet. A key figure for his club side Borussia Dortmund, Bellingham is set to play an increasingly important role for England under Gareth Southgate.
It is easy to understand why there are such high hopes for the all-action midfielder from Stourbridge, near Birmingham. Last week, he claimed Goal’s 2022 NXGN award, topping their list of the 50 best teenagers in world football.
Liverpool captain Henderson believes Bellingham has the potential to reach the very pinnacle of the sport but has warned against expecting too much, too soon.
“I don’t like speaking too highly of players, especially when they’re such a young age because everybody else seems to do that pretty quickly. But I’ve been very impressed,” Henderson told SPORTbible ahead of Saturday’s 2–1 win over Switzerland.
“I like the way he plays. I like his personality, which is the most important thing. I like the way he conducts himself. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about him.
“He’s a great lad, a fantastic player and I’m sure he’ll go from strength to strength as he gets older and matures.
“When I watch him, he plays with such maturity even now. The sky is the limit for him really.”
Bellingham has already made 83 appearances for Dortmund since joining the German club in a £25m move from Birmingham City in 2020.
His assured performances for both club and country have led to him being tipped as a potential future England captain, with Dortmund veteran Mats Hummels among those to have praised the midfielder’s leadership qualities this season.
Henderson also sees those traits in Bellingham but is wary of putting unnecessary pressure on the youngster as he continues his development.
“He’s still very young, he’s doing so well at Dortmund [and] he’s done well whenever he’s played for England. For me, let’s just let him play football. Let him enjoy it because he is such a special talent,” added Henderson.
“Yes, he’s got leadership qualities for sure but there’s no need to put that pressure on him right now. Let him grow into the person that he can be on his own. He’s got his feet firmly on the ground [and] has such maturity for a young player.
“I know in my own mind that he’s going to be a top player.”
While Bellingham is still in the formative years of his career, Henderson is now a grizzled veteran preparing for his sixth major tournament with England.
At 31, he is the second oldest member of the squad for this month’s friendlies against Switzerland and the Ivory Coast, and the upcoming World Cup in Qatar could represent his final opportunity to win the tournament with the Three Lions.
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