'Bellingham? He's from another world!' - Fabio Capello

Jude Bellingham - Laureus World Sports Awards
Fabio Capello, the former manager of England, Madrid and Milan, believes Jude Bellingham’s best position is as a second striker as he prepares to end the season with appearances in the Champions League final at Wembley and EURO 2024. 
“He can inflict a lot of damage in this position – that’s where I would play him,” Capello said in an exclusive interview with Spirit of Sport, the global magazine show produced by Laureus. 

“He has this ability to penetrate the defence; he finds the right spots. As a manager, that’s how I would use him.” 

Capello broke down the blend of technical ability, versatility and mentality that has seen Bellingham – winner of the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award 2024 – become the undisputed fans’ favourite for Madrid, the newly-crowned La Liga champions who take on Borussia Dortmund in the final of the Champions League.  

“He is really from a different world, because he has quality, but he also has competitive strength. 

“In El Clásico, he lifted Madrid. There were two or three times when he won the ball by sliding and the whole stadium rose to applaud him. One can tell a leader by how they behave on the field.”
Capello himself knows all about leaders and the qualities it takes to win European football’s biggest club game. In one of the greatest performances in the history of the Champions League, 30 years ago, his Milan team defeated the Barcelona Dream Team coached by Johan Cryff 4-0 in Athens. 

As Capello recalls, despite the healthy scoreline, it wasn’t until the final stages when he started to believe the title could be theirs:  

“We scored four goals, and I never cheered,” he said. “When you play against teams like Barcelona, the quality of the players is so high that they can score two goals in three minutes. All it takes is for one to be distracted and unfocused, and they will take advantage of it because the quality is so high that they are capable of scoring two or three goals.  

“When there were three minutes left, I thought: ‘Well... surely they cannot score four goals in three minutes. They’ve got no time for that!’”

Capello also shared more about the ‘forgotten friendly’ which paved the way for that Champions League glory in ’94. 

“Before the final in Athens, we had played a friendly match in Florence and lost 2-0. After the game, journalists asked me: ‘Are you worried?’ ‘No,’ I said. ‘I am happy because now I know what I have to do’. The experiment of putting Marcel Desailly as centre-back had not been a success. I kept Desailly in a midfield position and revolutionised the whole defensive line.” 
At the recent Laureus World Sports Awards in Madrid where Bellingham was named Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year 2024, the 20-year-old spoke about his desire to help shape the next generation.  

"I got into football because I love it. There is a responsibility that comes with that, the impact you can have on kids,” the Real Madrid player said. 

"It's important that I try and be a good role model. I'm not perfect but I do want to have a good and lasting impact on the kids and the youth growing up.” 

As a Laureus Ambassador, Capello sees first-hand the positive influence sport can have, through visits to Laureus supported programmes with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in Italy and at other events across the world. 

“As athletes we must unite and help these people in need. We are an example to children and young people and by engaging with them, talking to them and listening to them, they can be a part of this solution. It is impactful and it can make a difference, now and in the future.” 

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