• Monday, July 15, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Euro 2024: Kroos backs Bellingham to lead England to glory

Jude-Bellingham-England

Germany veteran midfielder Toni Kroos has expressed confidence that his Real Madrid teammate, Jude Bellingham, can handle the pressure of leading England at Euro 2024.

Kroos, who has had a year to observe Bellingham up close, describes the young midfielder as “the complete package” and believes he can cope with the high expectations placed on him.

Despite being only 20 years old, Bellingham recently played a pivotal role in Real Madrid’s Champions League victory at Wembley. This impressive feat, combined with his maturity on and off the field, sets him apart from other players his age, according to Kroos.

Kroos recounted, “I’ve had a year with Jude and had to ask how old he really is. He’s 20 but – particularly off the field – he feels to be a fair bit more mature than that.”

Bellingham, who became Birmingham City’s youngest-ever player at 16, made his England debut in November 2020. He is now expected to play a central role in England’s quest for glory in Germany. During an open training session in Jena, Bellingham trained alongside his 25 teammates, demonstrating his readiness for the tournament.

Kroos further emphasized Bellingham’s ability to handle pressure: “It speaks for him that there is so much hope resting on him in England. At Real, in the first few weeks, he was directly decisive for us. I didn’t feel he had any problems as his importance to the team grew. He’s a guy who can handle this pressure.”

England, one of the favourites for Euro 2024, begins their campaign against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday. The team, aiming to secure their first major international trophy since the 1966 World Cup, will rely heavily on Bellingham’s capabilities.

Reflecting on his career, Kroos, who returned from international retirement to play for Germany at the Euros, praised Bellingham while hoping for an eventual end to England’s journey: “I wish him personally a good tournament — but I hope that it’s over for England at some point.”

Kroos, a 2014 World Cup winner with six Champions League titles to his name, will retire from all football after the tournament. His endorsement of Bellingham as “the complete package” underscores the high regard in which the young Englishman is held.

England, still seeking redemption from their penalty shootout loss to Italy in the 2021 Euro final, are poised to make a strong showing at Euro 2024, with Bellingham expected to be at the forefront of their efforts.