England's hope Bellingham can handle pressure, says Kroos

AFP , Tuesday 11 Jun 2024

Germany veteran Toni Kroos said Real Madrid teammate Jude Bellingham can handle the pressure of carrying England's Euro 2024 expectations.

England s Jude Bellingham reacts during the World Cup. AP


Still just 20, Bellingham comes fresh off a Champions League victory at Wembley and did not play as England lost a warm-up match 1-0 against Iceland.

Asked if the pressure was too much for Bellingham at his age, Kroos said the England midfielder was not like most 20-year-old footballers.

"I've had a year with Jude and had to ask how old he really is. He's 20 but – and particularly off the field -- he feels to be a fair bit more mature than that."

Bellingham moved to Borussia Dortmund aged 17, made his England debut in the same year.

"It speaks for him that there is so much hope resting on him in England. At Real in the first few weeks he was directly decisive for us. And I didn't feel he had any problems as his importance to the team grew.

"It speaks for him that the hopes are placed on him. I think that he's a guy who can handle this pressure. This personality at just 20 years of age -- it's no problem for him to withstand the pressure."

England, without a major international trophy since 1966's World Cup win over West Germany, are one of the favourites for Euro 2024. At the previous Euros, in 2021, they lost the final on penalties to Italy.

Kroos, who played his last game at club level in Real Madrid's 2-0 Champions League final win over Dortmund, returned from international retirement to play for Germany at the Euros but will retire from all football after the tournament.

The 2014 World Cup winner, who won a record six Champions League titles during his career with Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, called Bellingham "the complete package."

"I wish him personally a good tournament -- but I hope that it's over for England at some point."

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