The successor of shirt number 5
Bellingham finally completed a move to Real for £115m (€134m), after Real beat the likes of Man City and Liverpool. The 19-year-old midfielder has become the most expensive English player of all time and the second most expensive in Real’s history (only behind Eden Hazard for 140 million euros).
Bellingham is also the first British player to sign for Real Madrid since Gareth Bale in 2013. Before that, there were stars from the fog like John Toshack, David Beckham, Michael Owen, Jonathan Woodgate and Steve McManaman wearing the legendary white shirt.
Real held the official launch for Bellingham on Thursday in front of a group of Spanish reporters. Also in this ceremony, his shirt number at the Bernabeu was announced.
The 19-year-old will wear the number 5 shirt, the number that the legendary Zinedine Zidane used to wear while playing. Before that, this number was occupied by Raphael Varane and Jesus Vallejo.
Real Madrid announced Bellingham’s new jersey number to fans on Twitter in a video with the caption: “And our new number 5 is… @Jude Bellingham”.
President Florentino Perez shared in the press conference: “Bellingham is one of the best players in the world. Welcome to the club of 14 Champions League titles.”
Bellingham himself said: “It is the most important day of my life to join the biggest club in the world. I have said in many interviews that I admire Zinedine Zidane and the legacy he has. I’m not trying to be like him, I’m just trying to be Jude. But that’s certainly a bit of homage to how great Zidane is.”
“As for the number 22, that’s the number I wore and it means a lot to me. Let’s see what happens in the future but for now I’m really happy to have the honor of wearing the number. by Zidane”.
The pressure is not small
In 2001, Zidane joined the Milky Way for 76 million euros, a world record price at the time. He scored the winning goal in the 2002 final against Leverkusen to give Real the 9th European Cup/Champions League in history.
The following season, Zidane helped the club win the La Liga title and he was voted FIFA World Player of the Year for the third time.
At Real at that time, it was a whole galaxy with bright stars like Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos, David Beckham, Ronaldo, Raul González… but Zidane still had an irreplaceable position. Even many people think that Zidane was about 50% of Real’s strength at that time.
Therefore, the fact that Bellingham received Zidane’s number 5 shirt was an extremely brave act. Because he also plays in the midfield position like Zizou, he will be compared to the French legend.
Bellingham himself also admires Zidane and always strives to have a career like the former France midfielder. Previously, he played in the central midfield position, but from the 2022/23 season, he has been pushed to the higher stone as an attacking midfielder, the position that made Zidane’s name before.
Real is in the process of “changing blood” in midfield when the legendary trio of Casemiro – Modric – Kroos is gradually receding into the past. Bellingham will join Aurelien Tchouameni, Federico Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga forming the backbone of Los Blancos for many years to come.
They will be the hope to maintain Real’s dominant position in the next decade and Bellingham is expected to be the leader of the new generation like Zidane.