“Like Gerrard and Lampard rolled into one”
|Host Nation: Qatar Dates: November 20-December 18 Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day by day TV listings – Full coverage details|
“We talk about the great midfielders 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.”
Rio Ferdinand saw a wealth of talent in front of him in the Three Lions engine room during an 81-cap international career spanning 14 years.
Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, David Beckham to name but a few.
But 19-year-old Jude Bellingham’s standout performance on his World Cup debut, scoring England’s first goal in an all-action display. in the 6-2 victory on Iran in Doha, left the BBC Sport pundit in awe.
“The authority with which he plays on the pitch is far beyond his years – he is a fabulous footballer, but to deliver a World Cup like this at this age…” Ferdinand said.
“I’m not saying he’s better or he’s going to be as good as all of them, but at that age none of them were doing what he was doing and it’s fabulous to watch.”
Against Iran, Bellingham made 15 tackles in the final third, with only marauding right-back Kieran Trippier (15) managing more, and his passing accuracy of 96% was bettered only by John Stones (99% ).
He also made 23 passes in the final third, again bettered only by Trippier’s 25, and dispossessed the Iranians nine times, with only Declan Rice (10) bettering the Borussia Dortmund midfielder.
That all-round impact in both halves of the pitch surprised former England midfield pair Jermaine Jenas and Danny Murphy, commentating on the match for BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Bellingham is a running back, he can really do it all,” Jenas said.
“He’s like Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard rolled into one. It’s a real advantage for Gareth Southgate to get him now in the form he’s in.”
Murphy added: “When you look at him, it’s very easy to forget how young he is.”
On BBC One, former England striker Alan Shearer added his praise.
“It was a complete performance from a very exciting player – he had everything, he put in the tackles, the work rate, his passing was excellent, he got his goal, it was really a special day for to him,” Shearer said.
Not only did former players wax lyrical about the Stourbridge-born midfielder’s eye-catching display, but his team-mates were also on hand to pay tribute.
“He’s an incredible player for such a young age,” right-back Trippier told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“He’s playing at such a high level and he’s not afraid. He’s got to keep his feet on the ground and keep performing like I know he will.”
At 19 years and 145 days, Bellingham became England’s third-youngest starter at a World Cup behind Luke Shaw in 2014 and Michael Owen in 1998.
And in a nice bit of symmetry, it was Shaw’s cross that he headed home in the 35th minute in Doha to become England’s second-youngest goalscorer at the World Cup, again behind Owen.
“I said I wanted to score more goals for Dortmund and England this year,” Bellingham, who has scored nine goals for his club this season, told BBC One.
“To be honest, I thought it was lost! Then it took ages to get in the goal, a very proud moment for me.”
As well as scoring, Bellingham’s industry set up Harry Kane to cross for Raheem Sterling to score England’s third goal, and his defence-splitting pass released Callum Wilson to set up Jack Grealish to make it six.
As former England goalkeeper Rob Green told Radio 5 Live: “He’s everywhere, he’s just patrolling the pitch. It seems like wherever the ball goes he’s there. He’s got that ability to find the ball in all the time.”
Get the latest results and goal notifications for any team at the FIFA World Cup by downloading the BBC Sport app: apple – android – Amazon
Get your daily dose of FIFA World Cup reaction, debate and analysis Daily World Cup on BBC Sounds