Jude Bellingham's former Birmingham manager explains why the midfielder wears the No.22 shirt

Jude Bellingham
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jude Bellingham has worn the No.22 shirt everywhere he's been, starting out at Birmingham City, with England and now at Borussia Dortmund. 

His former manager Pep Clotet, who handed Bellingham his debut at just 16-years-old, knows pretty much everything about Bellingham and remains very close to his former protégé, but he looks puzzled when FourFourTwo mentions that the shirt number actually had a meaning behind it.

Indeed, Bellingham insists on wearing the 22 shirt, because it represents his ability as a midfielder to play every position in that area of the pitch - as a four, eight and 10. His former Birmingham City youth coach revealed this prior to World Cup 2022, but to Catalan manager Pep Clotet, 22 had simply been a random number.

In order to clarify, Clotet simply rang Bellingham in Dortmund to check during FFT's interview with him. 

 “I will ask him – I’ll see if he’s not training and I’ll ask him now!” the smiling former Birmingham boss said, surprising FFT by picking up his phone and calling the player himself. 

“Hey Jude, just a quick one? Yeah, everything is all right. Just a quick one: why did you pick the 22 shirt at Blues? And why four, why eight and why 10? That’s all the positions you can play? All right! No, it’s because a journalist told me and I said, ‘F**king hell, you know more than me!’ I said, ‘I’ll ask him!’ All right, thanks – that was it. Keep on, I’ll speak to you later!”

Clotet's relationship with Bellingham is clearly very special, one that is born out of respect despite the age difference. When the Borussia Dortmund midfielder was still only 16 but in the Birmingham first team, Clotet told the other players that they will be able to retell stories about how they played with Bellingham during his career. 

“I told the players, ‘Just remember one thing’,” Clotet told FFT. “I said, ‘If we stay in the league and what I have in my mind comes true, this is going to be one season that you’ll remember for the rest of your lives. You will be able to tell your grandkids that you played with Jude Bellingham in his first season.

"You don’t see the meaning of this now, but one day you will understand it’.” 

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.