Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham recently opened up about the source of his inspiration for choosing Zinedine Zidane as his football idol.
He pointed to his father’s deep admiration for the former French midfield maestro as the driving force behind his choice.
The 20-year-old, who recently received the Kopa Award for being the best young player in Europe, shared various aspects of his life and the rapid ascent of his football career.
While Bellingham expressed his respect for numerous players, including legendary figures from his former club Birmingham City and former England internationals, he emphasised how his father’s recommendation led him to develop a lasting admiration for Zinedine Zidane.
“I admired the Birmingham players, the team that won the League Cup at Wembley (2-1 against Arsenal in 2011). My heroes were Seb Larsson, Craig Gardner and Lee Bowyer,” he told L’Equipe.
“As I got more into it, dad was the most important. Later, my first models were Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard, simply because they played in England. And then when you grow up, you start watching football.
“My dad had a fake Zidane shirt that he had bought on the beach. He took it everywhere, often at home. One day I asked him: ‘By the way, who is that guy?’ He replied: ‘Go on YouTube and check him out.’ Since then, I probably haven’t stopped.” He revealed.
“Zidane was the player I wanted to be. I was lucky enough to meet him during the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool (1-0, in 2022). I was like a kid, wide-eyed. It’s so humbling for someone who has achieved so much. He gave off a great presence. And, according to the guys who played with him here, he was a great coach. That is just as important.”
Jude Bellingham made a high-profile move to the record UEFA Champions League holders and opted to wear the iconic number 5 shirt, famously associated with Zinedine Zidane.
Since he arrived at the club, Bellingham has made an immediate impact with exceptional performances, most notably in an electrifying El Clásico showdown, where the technically gifted young midfielder scored two outstanding goals, leading his team to a remarkable comeback victory against Barcelona.
Bellingham’s remarkable performances have naturally led to comparisons with Zidane, a discussion he acknowledges but also considers somewhat flawed.
According to the English midfielder, while he chose the same shirt number as Zidane, he is determined to forge his unique path and leave his mark on the club’s history in a distinctive way, much like Zidane did.
He explained, “It’s a kind of tribute, of course. But, at the same time, I want to follow my own path and shape this number in my own way, making it what I want it to be: the modern number 5 for Real Madrid.”
Meanwhile, back at Birmingham City, Bellingham’s shirt number, 22, has been retired, symbolising his significant impact on the club during his time with the team.