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Jude Bellingham accepts England have kinks to iron out after win over Serbia

Jude Bellingham applauds the fans after England’s win (Adam Davy/PA)
Jude Bellingham applauds the fans after England’s win (Adam Davy/PA)

Jude Bellingham knows England have some kinks to iron out but focused on the positives after Gareth Southgate’s side dug deep to win Sunday’s Euro 2024 opener against Serbia.

Among the favourites to triumph in Germany having finished runners-up three years ago, they flew out the blocks in Gelsenkirchen as they began this summer’s quest for glory.

Bellingham’s powerful early header put dominant England in control, but Serbia stepped up after the break and Southgate’s side were made to sweat as they saw out a 1-0 win.

The result puts them top of Group C and Sunday’s man of the match batted back the suggestion that the first half showed why they can win the Euros and second period why they may fall just short.

“No, not quite – I don’t agree with that,” Bellingham said.

“I think the first half shows why we can score goals against any team, and the second half shows why we can keep a clean sheet against any team.

“I think obviously, commonly with the team, there’s a negative theme around all our games. You know, sometimes rightly so.

“But I think in this case you take the positives from the fact that, OK, maybe we had to hold on at times and suffer a little bit, but we kept a clean sheet.

“When you keep clean sheet all you have to do is score one goal to win the game.

“It’s three points, I think this team is still so new, gelling together with every game.

“So, yeah, I think inside the changing room we’ll be happy with that.

“Of course, there will be negatives that we want to kind of rub out but overall I’m pleased with that performance.”

Bellingham starred as England won a fourth straight tournament opener, showing strength, skill and confidence against physical opponents.

Jude Bellingham celebrates scoring the winner
Jude Bellingham celebrates scoring the winner (Martin Rickett/PA)

Put to the 20-year-old that he seems unfazed as he looks to help the Euro 2020 runners-up go one better, he said: “I just enjoy playing football.

“When it comes to each and every game, I take it as a single game, as opposed to looking too far into the future.

“I realise that in every game I feel like I can make an impact, I feel like I can decide games.

“But that happens on any given game instead of looking too far into the future.

“The truth is that I really enjoy playing football, so when I go out there I play with the fearlessness because I love doing it so much.

“It’s a release for me and it’s my favourite thing to do in the world, so when I play out, it’s not much of a job. It feels like a pleasure.”

Jude Bellingham (left) celebrates scoring with Trent Alexander-Arnold
Jude Bellingham (left) celebrates scoring with Trent Alexander-Arnold (Martin Rickett/PA)

Bellingham’s performance will grab the headlines but his celebration with Trent Alexander-Arnold was a nod to those working behind the scenes, such is the collective effort at these Euros.

“It’s obviously really special to score any time for England, especially a match-winning goal and a goal that gives us points and can contribute to us hopefully having a good tournament,” he said.

“The celebration was from a game we played called Wolf, and one of the staff always holds his face like that when he doesn’t know what’s going on.

“It was more of a celebration for the backroom staff, who put in so much work every day and won’t receive any awards like this or get to have the moments we get to have on the pitch.

“But we value them so much and it’s important going through the tournament we keep that atmosphere.”

Bellingham played in a midfield three on Sunday with Declan Rice and Alexander-Arnold, who has been converted from right-back, against Serbia.

Whether that balance is right will be debated ahead of Thursday’s match against Denmark, but he saw promise from the Liverpool man and quality in the Arsenal midfielder.

“I loved it,” Bellingham said. “I think we had a great balance with the ball, without the ball, particularly in possession I thought Trent was brilliant.

“He conducts games so well. He’s very calm on the ball. His technique and qualities unmatched, I think, in terms of what he can do with the ball.

“He’s always positive and that really helps someone like me who wants to get on the ball all over the pitch and try and attack their backline.

“So, I look forward to having more minutes with him, enjoying how we can develop and how we can get used to each other’s game, and seeing how far we can take the potential.

“And of course, as always, Dec was fantastic. I think he’s one of the best in the world in that position. He’s a joy.”