Jude Bellingham has been reflecting on how he became an award-winning £25 million ($33m) asset on Borussia Dortmund’s books at just 17 years of age.
A meteoric rise to prominence has been enjoyed by the promising midfielder over the course of the last 12 months.
A senior debut was handed to him by Birmingham at the age of 16 years and 38 days, with Bellingham not looking back from that point.
It did not take long for his potential to be noted by leading sides across Europe, with Premier League heavyweights quick to join the hunt for his signature.
In the end, German giants Dortmund emerged victorious in that transfer scramble, with Bellingham lured away from St Andrew’s in July.
“What Birmingham City did for me, I can’t thank them enough, I’d thank them a million times because they’ve given me the platform to go on and achieve the things that I have,” Bellingham told the EFL’s official website.
“I got so much support from them, all the way through from the age of seven. I must give thanks to Pep Clotet, it’s never easy for any manager of a team to throw in a 16 year old, especially in the Championship, but for him to stick by me was huge.”
Bellingham’s rapid progress has now been recognised with the EFL Young Player of the Season award for 2019-20 and the LFE Championship Apprentice of the Year prize.
Quizzed on how he got to this point, the teenager added: “It’s not all about quality where us young players are concerned.
“It’s about having that fire in your belly, the hunger to stand out and change a game regardless of your age. It’s easy to be given your debut and then coast a little bit, but to go and make an impact like many young players have done is a credit to young players in this league, the clubs that they’re at and the league itself.
“For me personally, it just took a lot of hard work. I wanted this more than anything in the world; to get into the first team and perform for Birmingham City was the only goal I had and that was my determination.
“There are some fantastic opportunities within the EFL with the cup competitions especially, it gives youngsters like me a chance and a platform to shine, especially when we’re coming up against experienced first-team professionals.”
Bellingham is now lining up alongside the likes of Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland at Dortmund, with the plan being for further potential to be unlocked in his game as he continues to take giants steps up the football ladder.
“I’m very grateful to get the opportunity to play for this club,” said a youngster who has also earned a first call-up to the England U-21 squad.
“I really appreciate the trust they’ve put in me by signing me. We’ve had a lot of training sessions, a few pre-season games and I just can’t wait to get started. It’s been so far, so good for me and I just want to carry that into the main season.”