Mike Dodds helped bring the England international on his way to stardom, while the youngster gave up on being another number 10
The reason Jude Bellingham favored 22nd place was revealed by Birmingham academy boss Mike Dodds, with football math leading a hot prospect to take on a shirt he is now synonymous with.
As he made his way through the youth ranks at St Andrew, the current Borussia Dortmund star wanted to become 10th and follow the glorious footsteps of many who wore that jersey before him.
Bellingham, who is a senior English international at just 17, has been persuaded to go for 22, although he has been set to combine the qualities of three positions.
What was said?
Dodds said talkSPORT: “He would be about 13 or 14 years old and like most boys of that age, they want to be number 10.
“And I remember, we sat down with him and we said, ‘we think you’re doing yourself a disservice, we think you can do it all.’ So we came up with: ‘we think you can be 22’.
“His eyes shone and we knew he had pinned him ever since! We said we thought he could be a midfielder or a quarterback. We thought he could be a box-to-box, which is an eight and we thought he could be a shooter and a creator, so 10.
“From the age of 13 onwards, he stuck to it until the end and you can see that in his game.
“He made his debut in Birmingham City and said, ‘I want my team number to be number 22,’ and he said the same thing in Dortmund.
“So I hope the kids look at it and say,‘ I’ll be for the next 22 years, ’and he sets the trend in the sense that he can do anything.
“I honestly think he can do anything; I think depending on the tactical needs of the game he can play in all three positions and I think that’s what makes him so unique. ”
The bigger picture
Bellingham, after moving to Dortmund, has kept jersey no.22 since he changed clubs.
He left a current impression in German football, with 37 appearances in all competitions for BVB.
Those from Birmingham are among those closely following the development of the hot perspective that will be expected in Gareth Southgate’s plans for this summer’s European Championships.
Bellingham will forever occupy a special place in the hearts of those at St Andrew, and the Blues will pull off shirt no.22 on the back of the home star, leaving the books after just 44 first-team outings.