TREVOR FRANCIS was watching his grandson play for Birmingham’s Academy when he first heard about Jude Bellingham.
There had been a buzz about Bayern Munich-target Bellingham for some time and St Andrew’s legend Francis asked people: “Who is he? They say he could beat my record.”
On August 31, he did just that – becoming City’s youngest ever goalscorer — at 16 years and 63 days — when he grabbed the winner to sink Stoke.
It meant Bellingham eclipsed Francis for the second time in a month after becoming the youngest player to appear for Brum against Portsmouth in the Carabao Cup in August 6.
Francis scored four goals against Bolton for Birmingham as a 16-year-old in 1971 but Bellingham was determined to rewrite the record books.
CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES
He admitted he had spent almost a decade planning his celebration — and scoring on his home debut made it even more special.
When he found the net, three minutes after team-mate Lukas Jutkiewicz had equalised, he knew exactly what he was going to do.
The boyhood Blues fan headed straight for ‘his people’ as he dived into the seats.
Since that moment, Bellingham has scored again – netting a winner against Lee Bowyer’s high-flying Charlton in a 1-0 win in mid-September.
And he has been earmarked as one of the most exciting teenage talents around but has calmly coped with the expectation that comes with it.
The kind of person I am meant I wanted to beat the record, or see how close I could get to it because I’ve heard how great Trevor Francis was.”
TREVOR FRANCIS COMPARISON
The Francis comparison is one that Bellingham was aware of.
He said: “The kind of person I am meant I wanted to beat the record, or see how close I could get to it because I’ve heard how great Trevor Francis was.”
Bellingham is also the youngest scorer in senior English league football since Jordon Ibe netted for Wycombe in October, 2011, aged 15 years and 325 days.
He added: “It was a dream come true. It’s what I’ve dreamt of since I was seven years old, as soon as I joined the Academy.
“A goal in front of the Tilton End, then into the crowd and that’s exactly what happened! As soon as that ball hit the net, I was off to celebrate with my people!
“Lukas had to save me from getting a booking but I’m a fan as well, so me being in there felt like celebrating as a boy. Scoring here made it even more special.”
DAD PLAYED NON-LEAGUE
Bellingham’s dad Mark, a sergeant with West Midlands Police, was no slouch in front of goal himself as he has scored 700 goals in non-league football.
His son smiled and said: “If I get anywhere near that I’ll have had a great career. I’ll try my best! My mum, dad, brother, grandparents — they are the reason I’m here today, because of all the sacrifices they have made.
“Things like providing transport for training, supporting me when school’s been hard.
“It’s happened quickly but I’ve felt I was ready and I’m grateful to the manager who’s given me the opportunity. I’m eager to do more now.”
This week, Bellingham captained England to glory in the under-17s Skyrenka Cup in Poland.
He scored against Finland and Austria, before leading his country to a penalty shootout victory over the hosts.
To top it off, Bellingham was also named player of the tournament. The future is certainly bright for this fledgling talent.