England pull through as Bellingham ‘writes his own scripts’

Gareth Southgate said Jude Bellingham “writes his own scripts” after the Real Madrid midfielder fired England to victory in their Group C opener against Serbia on Sunday.

Bellingham’s 13th-minute header was enough to give the Three Lions a 1-0 win in Gelsenkirchen as an impressive first-half display gave way to a tense second period, with England struggling to see the game out.

However, Bellingham was England’s standout performer — picking up UEFA’s Player of the Match award — and Southgate said: “He writes his own scripts doesn’t he?

“The timing of his runs. It was a super bit of play in the buildup to the goal as well. I thought at different moments, all of our forward players looked dangerous and did a really good job for the team.”

England hit the crossbar in the second half as Harry Kane‘s 77th-minute header was turned onto the woodwork by Serbia goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic, but Southgate’s side were unable to maintain their first-half dominance as Serbia pushed for an equaliser.

“This team is still coming together,” Southgate said. “Everyone is expecting us to waltz through, but there is a lot of hard work ahead. We’re short of certain things. We’re finding best possible solutions.

“We’ve had a very complicated run-in to all of this [due to injuries], but the spirit of the group was there for everybody to see tonight and we’ll definitely grow from that.”

For his part, Bellingham said the formula for his success was about everyone else in his life, deflecting the spotlight after dragging England to an important tournament-opening win.

“Jude Bellingham is made up of amazing people, really,” he said. “It’s not just me who turns up and enjoys it like I do and just plays football, it’s because I have such a great support network. My family, my friends, my teammates. Playing football is the easiest part.”

Next up for Group C leading England is a match against Denmark, who drew 1-1 with Serbia earlier in the day, and Southgate said the early test might pay dividends for his side as the Euro progressed.

“We had to suffer a bit, which I think is really good for us,” Southgate said. “Second half we didn’t keep it as well as I would have liked, but to get the win is very important.”