Bellingham’s emotional farewell ruined by racist abuse
Jude Bellingham’s emotional farewell to Birmingham City was marred by what the exciting teenager described as “disgusting” racist abuse on social media.
Bellingham, who will join Borussia Dortmund in a deal worth around £30 million, posted a screengrab of a now-deleted message on Twitter which called him an “overrated talent” and said “black people only think about money”.
Police said that they were “thoroughly investigating these abhorrent comments” and added that the police had contacted Bellingham and his family.
The incident added a sour note to an exciting period for the winger, who said the stellar rise of Jadon Sancho and the lure of Champions League football had convinced him to pick Dortmund over Manchester United. Bellingham pledged his future to the Bundesliga team earlier this week in a deal that makes him the most expensive 17-year-old in football history.
Sancho moved to Dortmund from Manchester City at the same age and, three years on, has 30 Bundesliga goals and 11 full England caps to his name. “He is a great example of what you can achieve if you go out there and do the right things,” Bellingham said after his final appearance for Birmingham against Derby County at St Andrew’s.
Manchester United led a posse of English clubs hoping the Stourbridge-born midfielder would fulfil his potential in the Premier League, giving him and his parents a tour of their training ground in March.
Yet, having spoken to Sancho, who made 12 senior appearances in his first Dortmund season and broke into the Champions League side the following year, Bellingham was convinced it was the club for him. “I chose Dortmund because it is the perfect step for my development,” he said. “The record they have with young players in recent years is unrivalled in European football. Weighing all that up, the people we met there, the stadium, the fan base, the staff… I love Birmingham City but they made me fall in love with their club as well. It is sad to leave but I have such a lot to look forward to.”
Bellingham admitted that the relentless courtship by United and others was difficult. “A few details were a bit off about the whole thing and I’m just glad that saga is over,” he said. “There were a lot of annoyances, a lot of people around me at the time when all I wanted to do was play for Birmingham.”
He found Wednesday’s farewell emotional. He was substituted in the second half, suffering from cramp. There were tears in his eyes after the final whistle, when he walked back on to the deserted playing area with his parents and younger brother, Jobe – also on the books at Birmingham – for a few moments of reflection. “I couldn’t hide my emotions,” he said. “I’ve been coming here since I was seven. I just wanted to get a bit of time out there on my own, with my brother and my mum and dad.”
Farewell: Jude Bellingham walks off after Birmingham’s defeat by Derby, his last game for the club