‘He has helped me a lot’ – Bellingham praises former team-mate Sancho ahead of Champions League final meeting

Football best friends Jude Bellingham and Jadon Sancho have agreed to leave each other alone until they take to the turf in Saturday night’s Champions League Final at Wembley.

The fairytale finale to the season sounds like something out of a Roy of the Rovers comic book as the two young Englishmen battle it out for the game’s most glamourous club prize representing Spanish and German clubs.

The pair became close when Bellingham, then just 17, followed in Sancho’s footsteps and moved from England’s Birmingham City to Germany’s Borussia Dortmund in 2020. There he found a footballing brother, four years his senior, who had taken the same path abroad as a teenager.

That was 2020 and much has happened since with Sancho perhaps the most unlikely finalist having moved to Manchester United for €80million only to be been shipped back to Germany on loan in January after a fall out with Erik ten Hag. He has shone again in the Bundesliga, where he is admired and respected again.

Bellingham, meanwhile, is the sport’s golden boy after his €105million switch from Germany to Spain and a brilliant first season at Real Madrid, the club that expects to be in this final every season.

Bellingham, now 20, saw off fellow countryman and England captain Harry Kane in a semi-final against Bayern Munich and is relishing facing another international colleague on home turf this time.

The proud Brummie said: “I have not spoken to Jadon or anyone at Dortmund this week. When we went through to the final we messaged each other and I said ‘I will see you there.’ Jadon has always been someone who has taken me under his wing. When I arrived in Dortmund he was a really good guy. He is someone I have got a lot of time for and he has helped me a lot.”

Bellingham hit 21 goals in his first year in Spain to quickly overtake Laurie Cunningham and David Beckham as Madrid’s leading English goalscorer and became the star man in their latest La Liga title triumph.

He is remarkably mature on and off the pitch for someone so young and relatively inexperienced. That is why he feels confident he can cope with both the expectations of Madrid fans and the emotion of playing against his former club in the biggest game of his career to date.

He explained: “This is a very special game for me. Maybe a little emotional for me in the lead up but it is important to take the emotion away from the game. It has been a very good first season. I have had so much help from the players and the staff. They have made it really easy for me.

“This is why I came here. It is a dream come true to play for this club, to score for this club, to win for this club. The Champions League is synonymous with this club too. You walk in the door every day and you see pictures of former players holding the trophy, smiling and that’s all you want – to be able to mark your own part in the history of the club. We have that chance on Saturday, and we have to take it for what it is.”

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