Belling­ham’s emo­tional farewell ru­ined by racist abuse

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By Jon Cul­ley

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

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