Why Jude Bellingham wears number five shirt at Real Madrid and not 22 | Football

Bellingham is shining for Los Blancos with the number five on his back (Picture: Getty)

Jude Bellingham really does look the real deal at Real Madrid – and that’s even without the fact he wears the iconic number five on the back of his shirt.

The England star, who will be part of the Three Lions squad for Euro 2024, is following in the footsteps of club legend Zinedine Zidane, who famously donned the number throughout his five years at the club.

But Bellingham, who has enjoyed a record-breaking start to his Madrid career with numerous goals and assists, did not originally want the number five.

Instead, the number 22 was the 20 year-old’s preference – a strange choice to most people, perhaps – but with good reason.

Let’s take a look at the history of Bellingham’s shirt number and why he wears five at Real Madrid.

Why does Jude Bellingham wear the number five shirt?

Throughout much of his career, Bellingham has been synonymous with the number 22 shirt.

This was the number that Bellingham had worn at Birmingham City and then latterly at Borussia Dortmund.

Jude Bellingham at his Real Madrid unveiling

Bellingham’s performances have been befitting of the iconic shirt (Picture: Getty)

However, when the midfielder arrived at Real Madrid last summer, the number 22 shirt was unavailable given it is currently worn by former Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger.

Speaking about his decision to elect for number five, Bellingham revealed it was indeed a nod to the great Zidane.

‘I’ve said in many interviews how much I admire Zinedine Zidane, the legacy he’s had at the club with this number,’ Bellingham said at his unveiling.

‘I’m just trying to be Jude, but it’s definitely a bit of a homage to how great he was.

‘The number 22 has a big meaning for me. And in my heart, I’m still number 22, just with the number 5 on my back.’

Zinedine Zidane playing for Real Madrid

The number five shirt is steeped in history at Real Madrid (Picture: Getty)

Why did Jude Bellingham use to wear the number 22 shirt?

Bellingham first donned 22 on the back of his shirt when he broke into the Birmingham City first team in 2019 at the age of just 16 – becoming their youngest ever player in the process.

Birmingham City’s head of development, Mike Dodds, explained that the choice of number was to reflect the club’s belief that he had the attributes of a 4 (holding midfielder), an 8 (box-to-box midfielder) and a 10 (attacking midfielder).

‘I actually remember his first session as a seven-year-old,’ Dodds told talkSPORT.

‘I thought, ‘Yeah he’s alright, not too bad’. He didn’t stand out. It probably wasn’t until he got to 13 where you started to go, ‘This boy is very good. He would have been about 13 or 14 and like most boys that age, they want to be a No 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 all of it.

‘So we came up with, ‘we think you can be a 22′ [4+8+10]. His eyes lit up and we knew we had hooked him from then on in.’

Jude Bellingham playing for Birmingham City

The midfielder graduated from the Birmingham City academy (Picture: Getty)

After Bellingham moved from Birmingham City to Borussia Dortmund for an initial £25m in 2020, the Championship club elected to retire the number 22 shirt in honour of their star academy graduate, who had made 44 appearances across the 2019/20 season.

The decision to retire the shirt was controversial given Bellingham only had one season playing in the first team – but the move has been given the full blessing by the player himself.

Bellingham told L’Equipe: ‘They told me ‘no one will take it until you get back to Birmingham’. I was like ‘Really?’ I had a good year, but it was nothing extraordinary. I looked around me. ‘But wait, are we allowed to do that?

‘But I understand the position and the decision.’

Announcing the move to retire the shirt, the club said at the time: ‘In such a remarkably short space of time Jude has become an iconic figure at Blues, showing what can be achieved through talent, hard work and dedication. His caring, humble and engaging off-the-field demeanour has also made him such an impressive role model.

‘The 22 shirt has become synonymous with Jude, his rise to the first team aged just 16 years and 38 days and these qualities. And as such the club have decided it would be fitting to retire this number, to remember one of our own and to inspire others.’


MORE : Meet Jude Bellingham’s parents – his dad is a former police sergeant and his mum still makes his bed


MORE : Jude Bellingham’s trademark goal celebration has roots in his football origins

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