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As the most talked-about siblings in world football go about their business at their respective clubs, there’s a regular refrain that greets game changing contributions from the Bellingham brothers.
Whenever Jobe or Jude scores a goal, provides an assist or turns in an eye-catching performance for Sunderland or Real Madrid, social media is flooded with quotes and videos with captions such as ‘the brothers continue to shine’, which was TNT Sports’ most recent response.
That was on Tuesday night, as we beat Leeds United in our Championship game courtesy of a goal from Jobe, and Jude racked up an assist for the Spanish heavyweights in their Champions League tie against Union Berlin.
It’s a unique and wonderful scenario, and the encouragement and support that the pair have always given each other hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Barring the great Fernando Hierro harbouring a secret love for the Lads, I suspect a Madrid player hasn’t tuned into Sunderland games as regularly as the England superstar, but that’s simply where we’re at now.
Speaking of things going unnoticed, something that also can’t be overlooked is the importance of Jobe to Sunderland, and particularly during our recent games against Leeds and West Brom, during which he looked completely rejuvenated and also demonstrated his incredible adaptability in helping us to two impressive victories.
Whether utilised as a makeshift striker, an attacking midfielder or in a deeper role, he continues to impress every time he takes to the field, and perhaps the most startling thing is how he rarely if ever looks hurried or overawed.
Against Daniel Farke’s side, he went toe-to-toe with a high class opponent and never took a backwards step. His goal, although perhaps not a thing of beauty, was just reward for being in the right place at the right time towards the end of a physically demanding night’s work.
At his best, everything seems to come naturally and he has the uncanny knack of being able to play a game on his own terms and without being thrown off his stride.
Of course he’s experienced plenty of ups and downs during his time here, but like any player destined for great things, he hasn’t let them define him and has always bounced back strongly.
Recently, there’s been a lot of focus on our summer transfer business and exactly how good it was, but one arrival has stood out above all others and our recruitment team were absolutely on the money when Kristjaan Speakman zeroed in on a player who, by all accounts, didn’t get along with former Blues coach John Eustace.
I don’t know whether the roads between Birmingham and Sunderland were frequented by highwaymen in medieval times, but one thing is for certain: Jobe’s summer transfer from St Andrews to the Stadium of Light is one of the shrewdest pieces of business we’ve completed in years and another example of us adding genuine quality to the ranks without breaking the bank.
To say the least, his impact has taken me by surprise.
When he signed, I felt that he would begin his Sunderland career on the fringes of the first team before gradually feeling his way into the starting eleven, and that perhaps clocking up twenty five first team appearances during 2023/2024 would represent a very solid maiden campaign in red and white.
Not for the first time, I was completely wrong and I’m more than happy to admit that I underestimated exactly how influential he would be.
The majority of our summer arrivals have taken to life on Wearside at a slower pace and many are still finding their feet, but Bellingham’s transition has been seamless.
When our new head coach is appointed, he’ll doubtless take some time to assess the squad, build relationships with the lads and work out who he might deem his ‘go-to players’.
If Bellingham isn’t among them, I’d be absolutely staggered, because he’s the kind of player that any coach would love to be able to call on.
At eighteen years old, he plays with the composure of a veteran and the confidence he displays- which was noticeable even when he first signed for the club - is that of someone who knows exactly how good he is and isn’t afraid to show it.
Indeed, that seems to be a Bellingham family trait and you can’t help but wonder if he’ll eventually start to replicate his brother’s trademark ‘arms outstretched’ goal celebration, too!
After a run of poor performances and results, Saturday and Tuesday’s victories have helped to get our season back on track. Every player seems to have a new lease of life and a renewed determination to keep us moving forward, and Jobe is no exception.
The red and white stripes can sometimes weigh heavily on young players and particularly new arrivals, but he’s every inch a natural Sunderland player and the thought of just how good he’ll be for us in a year or eighteen months (assuming a top flight club doesn’t swoop in for him) is quite scary, but in the best way possible!