The plaudits were rolling in for an “incredible” and “complete” performance from Jude Bellingham after he starred in England’s opening World Cup win over Iran.
Bellingham, 19, has been in dazzling form for Borussia Dortmund this season, scoring nine goals in all competitions and shining in the Champions League.
A switch to international football did not slow his scoring down as he headed in England’s first goal in the thumping 6-2 victory.
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He was also influential throughout the game and earned rave reviews from former England internationals Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand and Micah Richards.
“What a performance… incredible,” said Shearer on the BBC.
“It was a complete performance from a really exciting young player. It had everything. He put in the tackles, his work rate was superb, he got his goal.
“It really was a special day for him and England.”
Bellingham’s displays this season have led to speculation that he could soon leave Dortmund in a mega-money move and return to the Premier League.
He is currently under contract with Dortmund, who he joined from Birmingham two years ago, until 2025.
“He was conducting things at times,” said Ferdinand.
“At times he is on the edge of their box probing, at times he is deep setting it up from behind. For a young player to be looking at his game and thinking he needs to add this and that, he’s only been playing a few years, you normally do that at 23 or 24!
“It will be really interesting to see what kind of player he ends up as because he has so many strings to his bow.
“The authority that he plays with on the pitch goes well beyond his years. He’s a fabulous footballer but delivering at a World Cup like that at that age.
“We talk about the great midfielders that we’ve played with and seen in England in our generation. None of them were doing what he’s doing at this age, on this stage. I’m not saying he’s better or going to be as good as all of them, but at this age, none of them were doing what he is doing and it’s just fabulous to see.”
The win is the perfect start for England, who next face USA in Group B on Friday.
Bukayo Saka of England celebrates with teammates Harry Kane and Luke Shaw after scoring their team’s fourth goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between England and IR Iran
Image credit: Getty Images
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Richards says Bellingham is a “special player”.
“I love that position he takes up in between the lines. He finds that bit of space and the finish [for the goal] is beautiful, just delightful the way he guides the ball into the corner.
“We are talking about a special player. His energy as well, he just doesn’t stop.”
Asked about England’s victory, Bellingham told the BBC: “Really good day for us, six goals in a World Cup game is really impressive.
“They came out really well and we didn’t have anything clear for a while but with more goals we opened them up. The start was tough and we had to dig in even when it wasn’t going our way. It’s important we learn how to create chances against those kinds of sides.
On his goal he added: “I thought it had missed and it took ages to loop into the goal. I told you I wanted to try and score more goals for Dortmund and England last year and to get in the right positions… it was a brilliant ball from Shawy [Luke Shaw] and I was just there to flick it away. A really proud moment for me.”
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