Chosen by Kim Kardashian and loved by fans, Bellingham fires England to 1-0 win over Serbia at Euros

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) — Jude Bellingham is the star of Kim Kardashian’s male underwear range, England icon David Beckham mimics his trademark goal celebration, and a Beatles classic has become his anthem as adoring fans serenade him with “Hey Jude” when he’s on the field.

Bellingham, it seems, can do no wrong.

No surprise then that he was the player to get England off to a winning start at the European Championship with a first-half goal to beat Serbia 1-0 in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday.

“Every game I feel like I can make an impact, I feel like I can decide games,” the Real Madrid star said. “I really enjoy playing football so when I go out there, I play with a fearlessness because I love doing it so much. It is a release for me.”

Wearing the No. 10 jersey once adorned by Wayne Rooney, the midfielder stooped to head in Bukayo Saka’s cross in the 13th minute. Bellingham raced away, arms outstretched in a pose Madrid fans have grown to love and Beckham has replicated on social media in tribute to a player who doesn’t turn 21 until later this month.

Bellingham has already done his talking on the field after a spectacular debut season at Madrid where he scored 23 goals, won the Spanish title and the Champions League.

He is also making a splash off of it.

Like Beckham, his appeal goes far beyond soccer. Presumably that was what Kardashian knew after Bellingham was chosen to front the menswear range of her SKIMS underwear. He’s also the star of an advertising campaign for sportswear giant Adidas, which features Beckham, who is just another of Bellingham’s many fans.

So much, so soon for someone so young could be seen as a cause for concern.

But Bellingham is not your average player.

“He writes his own script,” England manager Gareth Southgate said.

Having already played at the last Euros and the World Cup in 2022, Bellingham is the first European player to appear at three major international tournaments before the age of 21, according to statistician, Opta.

His goal was certainly the story of this game - sending England to the top of Group C after Denmark drew 1-1 with Slovenia. Christian Eriksen scored for the Danes - three years after suffering a cardiac arrest on the field at the last Euros.

England plays Denmark in Frankfurt on Thursday.

Southgate's team might have gone into that match on the back of a bigger margin of victory, with Harry Kane coming close to scoring in the second half when Serbia goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic pushed his far post header onto the underside of the bar.

England was a beaten finalist at the last Euros, losing on penalties to Italy in the final three years ago. It is one of the favorites to go one better this time around.

But off-field issues overshadowed the buildup to the game against Serbia, which had been deemed high risk due to concerns about violence between rival supporters. Some of those fears were realized when police rushed to separate brawling fans in Gelsenkirchen earlier in the day.

Social media footage showed men throwing chairs at each other outside a restaurant festooned with Serbian flags in the city.

Inside the stadium there were boos during the anthems.

England fans were soon celebrating once the game got underway after Bellingham’s decisive moment.

And he’s got no problem with the song supporters have attached to him.

“I listen to the Beatles a lot. My style of music is a bit old so that is right up my street,” he said.

Over in Hamburg, Dutch fans were also partying and turned the city into a sea of orange. The Netherlands secured a come-from-behind 2-1 win against Poland in Group D thanks to Wout Weghorst’s late goal.


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