Jude Bellingham has had to emerge from “behind the eight ball” in order to become a leader at Real Madrid, says Steve McManaman.

How Bellingham Emerged From ‘Behind The Eight Ball’ In Madrid
Bellingham Emerged From ‘Behind The Eight Ball’ In Madrid

The England international midfielder completed a €103 million (£88m/$112m) transfer to Santiago Beranbeu in the summer of 2023. He has been a revelation in Spain, reaching the 20-goal mark across all competitions, and is proving to be a suitable heir to the No.5 shirt that was previously worn by Zinedine Zidane.


Ex-Blancos and Three Lions star McManaman is among those to have been left impressed by the speed at which Bellingham has settled under the brightest of spotlights, telling TNT Sports that: “I think everybody has to be impressed really, I’ve been very impressed with what he’s been able to do.

“I spoke to the people around Madrid and to the president last week when I was over there for a charity game and they said they love him.

“They love his attitude on the pitch.

“Also, they love his attitude off the pitch.


“They love how he’s tried to integrate with the team.

“But what he’s done on the pitch has been truly exceptional.

“They’re clear at the top of the league, he’s been the leading goalscorer, he stepped up to the mark, and there’s a lot of pressure on him being a big-money signing, not having a centre-forward and of course he’s taken Zizou’s [Zinedine Zidane] shirt [the No. 5].

“And he’s absolutely responded to all of that without even blinking, and he’s just, he’s taken it all in his stride and he’s been really comfortable”.



McManaman added on the challenges that Bellingham has had to overcome in order to become a talismanic presence for Real:

“It’s possibly the biggest club in the world, there’s probably more pressure on that club than anywhere else in the world.


“I think the fact that he’s gone in as a big-money signing and the fact that Real Madrid didn’t win the league last year, or the Champions League, was a huge amount of pressure on straight away, because of the history of the club.

“At every turn at the Bernabeu or at Valdebebas [the training ground] there are pictures of past teams winning trophies.

“So instantly, when you come into the club, and you’re a big-money signing the pressure is on you.

“Then you have the fact that he doesn’t speak the language, and he doesn’t really know the culture, there’s more pressure on you, because you have to learn the language you’re already starting behind the eight-ball really.

“So the fact that he’s done that, and he’s risen to that, to be one of the leaders in such a short space of time, I think is exceptional.

“But the pressure on the club and their desire to win is paramount.

“Once you join, you have to win every single year.

“That doesn’t necessarily happen with teams in England, because there’s so much more competition.


“In Spain, if you are Real Madrid, and you have a bad year where you don’t win anything, it’s a major problem.

“And they won the Copa del Rey last year but still, that’s not enough.

“And then you have the fact that there was a bit of a turnover of players [Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard departing over the summer] with big players leaving, and people getting injured at the start of the season such as Thibaut Courtois and Eder Militao, there’s more pressure on you then.

“But for Jude if you score the winner that day [opening day of the season when Militao was injured against Athletic Club] then it shows your team-mates and the fans that from the first minute, you belong at Real Madrid, particularly when he’s such a young lad.

“That’s what you have to remember. He was 19 at the time, now 20.

“That is an exceptionally difficult thing to do, to go to a club of that magnitude that’s rare.”

Read more: Leao Brands Cassano A ‘Clown’ After Rashford And Foden Jibe

Golden Boy winner Bellingham has already endeared himself to a demanding fanbase in Madrid and will be hoping to add more medals to his collection before the 2023-24 campaign comes to a close – with the potential there for La Liga and Champions League crowns to be placed alongside the Supercopa trophy that Carlo Ancelotti’s side have already claimed.

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