Jude Bellingham hailed Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney as his biggest influence while growing up.
The England international has been in stunning form for Real Madrid since his summer move from Borussia Dortmund in a deal worth €131 million (£114m/$138m).
Now, he has the Golden Boy trophy to show for his efforts as he followed in the footsteps of previous winners such as Rooney, Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.
It was an incredibly proud moment for Bellingham as he collected the golden ball on Monday evening at a ceremony in Turin and he made sure to pay his tributes to the former England and Manchester United great, Rooney, whom he has admired since childhood.
After picking the award, Bellingham said: “It’s about trying to make my team and my country the best teams in the world.
I think to be the best player in the world, that’s what you have to do, to help your teams win. To join that list is such a big honour.
“For me, I would probably say that Rooney was my biggest influence growing up. Being from England, the way he played, the way he fought. But there are so many other players I’ve taken bits from.”
Bellingham has been simply outstanding in 2023. He was judged the Bundesliga Player of the Season for 2022-23 as Borussia Dortmund finished runners-up in Germany’s top-flight before he set sail for Spain.
In Madrid, he has emerged as the leading goalscorer for Carlo Ancelotti, netting 15 times in 17 games across all competitions. Bellingham had earlier won the Kopa Trophy in October, which is also awarded to the best Under-21 player worldwide.
Real Madrid are currently at the top of La Liga and in the Champions League standings, thanks to Bellingham’s exploits in front of goal. He will be back in action when Real Madrid make a trip to Real Betis on Saturday. Whereas, Rooney will lead Birmingham against Coventry in the Championship on the same day.