Madrid’s Bellingham: UCL final a lifelong dream

Madrid’s Bellingham: UCL final a lifelong dream

Bellingham ready for ‘fairytale’ Champions League final at Wembley (0:57)

Jude Bellingham looks ahead to the Champions League final and reflects on his debut season with Real Madrid. (0:57)

  • Alex Kirkland

  • Rodrigo Faez

May 27, 2024, 09:58 AM ET

Jude Bellingham has said the Champions League final is “a game I’ve dreamed of all my life” as he prepares to star for Real Madrid against Borussia Dortmund in Saturday’s showpiece at Wembley Stadium.

Bellingham, 20, has already enjoyed a hugely successful debut season in Spain, scoring 19 league goals to help fire Madrid to the LaLiga title.

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The England midfielder will face former club Dortmund in London, having joined Madrid last summer after three seasons with the Bundesliga side.

“It’s definitely special,” Bellingham said on Monday during Madrid’s pre-final media day — when asked about playing Dortmund.

“But I think the preparation has to be the same as it is for every game… It’s important to be me, and not to worry too much about the emotional side.”

Bellingham has made 10 Champions League appearances for Madrid this season, scoring four goals, although he hasn’t found the net since the group stage.

“I’m really excited. [The final] is a game I’ve been dreaming of since I started playing football,” Bellingham said. “I understand the opportunity and I don’t want to waste a second… It’s a game I’ve dreamed of all my life. It would be stupid now to get here and want to hide away from the occasion.”

“I’ve always thought to dream as big as possible,” he added. “It’s a feeling I’ve always had growing up, that I wanted to play right at the highest level. I’ve worked hard, but there’s a lot of luck involved as well. I don’t shy away from saying how fortunate I’ve been. Now I’m here, I want to enjoy every moment.”

Both Bellingham and teammate Vinícius Júnior have been named as possible Ballon d’Or candidates this season if Madrid win the Champions League.

Speaking to the media on Monday, Vinícius backed veteran midfielder Toni Kroos — who announced last week that he’ll retire this summer — to receive the award.

“I’d take winning the [Champions League] final, winning the Copa América [with Brazil] and the Ballon d’Or for Toni,” Vinícius said. “It’s his last season… We have to play for Toni, it’s his last game for us. He’s an even better person than player.”

Alongside Bellingham, Vinícius has starred this season, overcoming early injury problems to become a key figure in Madrid’s run to the final.

“At first it was very difficult with my injury,” he said. “But you have to take the good from the bad. My injury made me a better player. I’ve had time to train, to watch games.

“It’s been difficult, but I prepared my head to go into the second half of the season. From January, I had to be at my best. I’ve prepared well, I’m doing the right things and I’m at my best, without doubt.”

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