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Just 20 years old, Jude Bellingham already has the swagger of a superstar when scoring for England and Real Madrid.

Away from the stage of the stadium, the fearless, formidable player is focused on football rather than fame.

The midfield maestro is meeting Sky News for an exclusive interview that is a rarity as he rarely sits down with the media – with the playing career firmly the priority.

“I have a really good support network – my family, my friends, they keep me really grounded,” Bellingham said. “I don’t feel like a kid who’s at the top … I feel like I go in every day to work like everyone else, and I’m just privileged that my work I enjoy it as much as I do.

“My family keeps me grounded and they make me enjoy it every day and come home to feel quite normal.”

Normality might become harder to experience as his status soars.

Soccer Football - Spanish Super Cup - Final - Real Madrid v FC Barcelona - Al-Awwal Stadium, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - January 15, 2024 Real Madrid's Jude Bellingham celebrates with the trophy after winning the Spanish Super Cup REUTERS/Juan Medina
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Bellingham celebrates with the trophy after winning the Spanish Super Cup with Real Madrid. Pic: Reuters


Last kick of the game

This trip back to England ticked off another landmark. A first goal at Wembley – salvaging a draw in last night’s friendly with Belgium with the last kick of the game.

Pride was tinged with regret that this international break finished without a victory.

The priority is the summer and going for glory at Euro 2024 in Germany after being part of the squad that reached the final at his first tournament in 2021.

When asked for his targets: “Trophies. Being able to give my country and my team, Real Madrid, great experiences and great memories of lifting trophies.”

Winning a trophy with England’s men would end a drought going back to the 1966 World Cup.

Soccer Football - 2023 Ballon d'Or - Chatelet Theatre, Paris, France - October 30, 2023 Real Madrid's Jude Bellingham after being awarded the Kopa trophy during the awards REUTERS/Stephanie Lecocq
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Bellingham after being awarded the Kopa trophy. Pic: Reuters


‘Not the best memories’

Growing up, Bellingham was a fan witnessing the misery of a group-stage exit at the 2014 World Cup and embarrassment to Iceland at Euro 2016.

“They weren’t great for England, to be fair, so it’s difficult,” he said. “I always remember watching the games with my family.

“I remember going out to Iceland, Italy [Euro 2012 quarter-finals], and that was probably my two earliest [memories] until I kind of played in the next one.

“So not the best memories from the perspective of an England fan.

“But all round it was really fun, kind of experiencing that with my brother, and always saying to each other that one day we’ll be there and, hopefully this summer we’ll be again.”

Brother Jobe, who has forged his own playing career at Sunderland having both started out at hometown club Birmingham City, will be part of the family’s extended support for Jude.

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Soccer Football - Bundesliga - Borussia Dortmund v Borussia Moenchengladbach - Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany - May 13, 2023 Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen DFL REGULATIONS PROHIBIT ANY USE OF PHOTOGRAPHS AS IMAGE SEQUENCES AND/OR QUASI-VIDEO.
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Bellingham made his name at German side Borussia Dortmund. Pic: Reuters

England squad has ‘such a good environment’

In the England set-up, Jordan Henderson, who currently plays for Ajax, is one of the players that Bellingham turns to to help navigate the expectation of playing for a national team that has only recently enjoyed highs again.

“You learn from their pain if you like,” Bellingham says. “When I speak to Hendo, I’m really close with him, he tells me a lot about how lucky I am to be in this squad with such a good environment.

“It was a bit different when he was playing at the start. And I try and listen to him a lot because of the kind of role model that he is to me.

“He’s probably helped me coming into the squad and he’s helped me manage that expectation and that responsibility.”

Being adventurous with his career has also prepared him for international duty.

There was the move to Borussia Dortmund in the midst of the pandemic in 2020 from Birmingham. After collecting a German Cup during his three seasons it was time to step up to the kings of European football – Real Madrid.

“It’s been really, really tough, but really fun, adapting to life in Spain and kind of having more responsibility with the Madrid team and with the national team,” he said.

“I’m kind of just trying to soak it all in and enjoy the experience and yeah, hopefully, improve and thrive on the back of it.”

It is the most pressurised of footballing environments but he has already become integral to the team in his first season that could still end with LaLiga and Champions League titles.

England's Jude Bellingham celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game during the international friendly match at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture date: Tuesday March 26, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER England. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire...RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to FA restrictions. Editorial use only. Commercial use only with prior written consent of the FA. No editing except cropping.
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Bellingham celebrates scoring England’s equaliser against Belgium at Wembley. Pic: PA

‘I move with the ball’

In 31 games, he has already scored 20 times and provided nine assists.

“I try and go out on the pitch and do my job and help my team win football games,” he says. “People kind of like the style which I play.

“I move with the ball and, and it’s really nice. I try to relate to the fans while I’m playing as well.”

Often the conversation goes back to club and country.

“I want the fans to feel like I’m another fan playing and representing them, because that’s what it is all about at the end of the day,” he says.

“And if they can see me and see someone that I can relate to and support, then it’s going to help the support of the team as well.

“And their support means a lot to us, more than they probably believe. So when the country is positive and when the fans are positive, the team will play better.”

He is ever the team player, but all the game’s personal accolades are destined to be filling his trophy cabinet one day.

“I wake up and I have to pinch myself, when I’m playing for England at Wembley or playing at the Bernabeu for Real Madrid,” he said.

“It’s something that I could never dreamed of happening this early, but grateful to everyone who’s played a part in my journey.”

And he is here giving back.

Being part of a Fun Football initiative is a sign of his commercial appeal as he is signed up to McDonald’s.

But it is chosen so he can inspire the next generation and ensure they have access to football – particularly those with a disability.

“What we’re seeing more of now is diversity in football, which is so important,” Bellingham says.

“Gender, race … shouldn’t matter when it comes to playing football. And it’s lovely to come here today and see the kids, regardless of who they are, what background they are from, any disabilities that they can enjoy playing football.”

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PM ‘appalled’ at Met Police ‘openly Jewish’ exchange – but Sadiq Khan has full confidence in commissioner

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PM 'appalled' at Met Police 'openly Jewish' exchange - but Sadiq Khan has full confidence in commissioner

Sadiq Khan has full confidence in Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley despite him facing calls to quit over the force’s handling of a recent pro-Palestine protest, Sky News understands.

It comes as a government source said Rishi Sunak was “appalled” at the incident – in which an officer was captured on video calling a man “openly Jewish”.

Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho told Sky News that the incident in London was “completely wrong” and that “what happens next” with regard to Sir Mark was a “matter for the Labour London mayor”.

A spokesperson for the London mayor said: “Everybody must feel safe going about in London wherever they please. The way the original incident was dealt with by the Met was concerning and the original response put out by them was insensitive and wrong.

“The Met have an extremely difficult job – particularly so when it comes to operational decisions taken while policing marches.

“But in the end the Met must have the confidence of the communities they serve and it is right that they have apologised for the way the incident was handled and their original public response.”

Read more:
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Coutinho: Met has ‘got it wrong’

Sky News understands that Sir Mark does still retain the confidence of Mr Khan, who as mayor has the power to effectively sack the commissioner – but can only do so with the permission of the home secretary, who can also require the mayor to dismiss the head of the Met.

Mr Rowley, who replaced Cressida Dick as Met commissioner in 2022, is facing calls to quit following the officer’s interaction with Gideon Falter, the chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism.

In the video, an officer appears to prevent Mr Falter from crossing the road and tells him: “You are quite openly Jewish. This is a pro-Palestinian march. I am not accusing you of anything, but I am worried about the reaction to your presence.”

Mr Falter, who was wearing a yarmulke and said he was simply walking past after attending synagogue, was then threatened with arrest if he did not leave the area.

He told Sky News that Londoners cannot have confidence in the Met under Sir Mark’s leadership and accused the commissioner of “victim blaming” following the incident, for which he has received two apologies.

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New video of ‘openly Jewish’ row

Mr Falter was joined in his call for Sir Mark to go by former home secretary Suella Braverman, who said there had been “failure after failure by the Met” over the last six months.

In an interview with Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, Ms Coutinho repeatedly declined to say whether Sir Mark should quit following the incident, but said what happened was “completely wrong”.

“It’s not right that one group of people in society should be told they can’t go around their daily lives because it might be a provocation to someone else,” she said.

“That’s not how equality works in this country.

“So I do think they’ve got it wrong. I think it’s right that they’ve apologised, and ultimately, what happens next is a matter for the Labour London Mayor who has the responsibility to hold the Met to account.”

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On Sunday morning, the Board of Deputies of British Jews said it would meet Sir Mark following “a series of high-profile errors” regarding its policing of pro-Palestinian marches.

“The entirely avoidable mistakes have had a devastating effect on the previously high level of trust held by the UK’s Jewish community in the police”, a statement from the group read.

As well as the Board of Deputies, Sir Mark will meet the Jewish Leadership Council and Community Security Trust (CST) next Thursday. The Campaign Against Antisemitism has told Sky News it is not attending the meeting.

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Met resignation is ‘not the way forward’

Labour’s shadow justice secretary Shabana Mahmood said the Met had “not covered themselves in glory” over the incident with Mr Falter but that she did not agree with calls for Sir Mark to resign.

“I can understand the strength of feeling and as I say that footage was very concerning, and I can understand where Mr Falter is coming from,” she told Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips.

“But I don’t think that the resignation of the Met’s commissioner is the way forward.”

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Sky News footage reveals new details of exchange between police and antisemitism campaigner called ‘openly Jewish’

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Sky News footage reveals new details of exchange between police and antisemitism campaigner called 'openly Jewish'

A tense, extended stand-off between police and an antisemitism campaigner where he was called “openly Jewish” and threatened with arrest yards from a pro-Palestinian march was caught on film by Sky News.

The footage gives context to the lengthy and fraught exchanges amid an increasingly volatile atmosphere, as the head of the Metropolitan Police faces calls to resign following the incident.

Scotland Yard has already had to apologise twice after a short video clip emerged on social media, where Gideon Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, was blocked by an officer close to the protest in the Aldwych area of London on Saturday 13 April.

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Original clip: Jewish man prevented crossing Gaza march

An initial apology by Met assistant commissioner Matt Twist had to be retracted after it suggested the presence of Mr Falter, who was wearing a kippah skull cap, was “provocative”, leading to a rebuke from the Home Office.

In the Sky News footage, the activist insisted he was only trying to cross the road down which the demonstration was passing, but this is disputed by an officer in the new footage, who said Mr Falter had deliberately walked head-on into the crowd and accused him of being “disingenuous” and seeking to “antagonise” the marchers.

Sky News has decided not to identify the officer.

Extended exchange

As emotions continue to run high over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, the Sky News footage shows a Met police sergeant explaining to Mr Falter that it was a “big demonstration” and barring his way to the march.

When Mr Falter asked if it was because he is Jewish, the officer nods and says “unfortunately”.

The officer said: “Unfortunately, sir you took it upon yourself to go from the pavement right into the middle of a pro-Palestinian march, which is why I asked you to go away.”

He added: “You are looking to try and antagonise this.”

“So I can already see what your mindset is, sir.”

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Taking issue with this, Mr Falter said: “My mindset? My mindset is I am Jewish in London and I can walk where I want.”

The officer then said: “Please don’t be too disingenuous sir.”

Mr Falter said: “I am not being disingenuous, I can walk wherever the hell I want.

“If I want to walk to that pavement that is what I am going to do and you are going to have to arrest me.”

The officer said: “I would rather not do that.”

Mr Falter said: “I want to get out of here, I want to go across there.”

The officer then said: “I tell you what, come with me, let’s get you out of here. If that’s what you want, come on.

“I am going to get you out over here, you are going to have to do the long way – there are so many people.”

Mr Falter said: “Why can’t I just walk where I want to walk?”

The officer said: “Because there is a big demonstration.”

He added: “I will walk you out and then you can go. You can see all the Israeli flags over there, I will walk you over there.”

Mr Falter said: “I don’t walk with the Israeli flags or any flags.”

The officer replied: “I am not asking you to walk with them but that is the route I will take you out.”

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‘Time for Mark Rowley to go’

Asking the officer “to listen to me for a second”, Mr Falter said: “The Metropolitan Police says that these marches are completely safe for Jews, there is no problem whatsoever.

“You are telling me that I cannot walk to the other pavement. That I have to be escorted by you.”

The officer said: “I am telling you that I will help you by escorting you over there and that way you will be completely safe just as we promised, so we are keeping our word.”

Mr Falter said: “I am only safe basically if I have a police escort, is that what you are telling me?”

The officer said: “I am offering it to you sir.

“I have already seen you deliberately leave the pavement and walk against this march. You chose to do that.”

Mr Falter said: “I was trying to get to the other side of the road.”

Amid the ongoing exchange, the noisy march continued in the background with protesters carrying placards and chanting “Palestine will be free.”

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Met resignation is ‘not the way forward’

‘Antagonise’

After several more exchanges, Mr Falter asked if it was because he was Jewish he was being stopped from crossing the road as it would “antagonise” the crowd.

The officer said: “You are quite obviously Jewish in appearance, you are outwardly demonstrating your faith.”

He added: “You decided to walk out into the road… and deliberately walk against the flow of people.

“This is quite clearly a pro-Palestinian demonstration. My concern is that your behaviour changed.

“You were at first on the footway, you were not causing any issues. You then decided to move into the road, not to cross it but walk against the flow of people.”

Mr Falter said: “What are you talking about? I was walking across the road.”

The officer then said: “I am sorry, which word didn’t you understand? You were walking against the flow of people.

“That’s why I asked you to move to the pavement.”

When Mr Falter asked if he would be allowed to cross the road if he removed his kippah, the officer said he would not because he was not confident he would not put it back on.

Someone unidentified can then be heard to say: “You are going round in circles now lads.”

Threat of arrest

The campaigner then spoke to another officer who said if he remained he would be arrested.

He was told his presence was “antagonising” a large group of people “and we can’t deal with all of that if they attack you”.

The officer said: “You deliberately tried to walk through the group.

“I watched what you did, you were walking through them in a straight line.”

Pointing away from the march, the officer added: “When you have a route here that offers you no resistance whatsoever it is an antagonistic action to take.”

Mr Falter restated he would like to cross the road as someone could be heard to shout “baby killers”.

He again moved to the pavement, where protesters had gathered with flags and placards, leading a police officer to put a restraining arm around him.

As well as chants of “Palestine will be free” there were also shouts of “shame on you” and “scum”.

The original police sergeant asked Mr Falter: “Where are you looking to go now? You are still heading the wrong way.”

As the situation appeared to grow even more volatile, the officer repeated his offer to escort Mr Falter away as he continued to remonstrate with police arguing they had failed to deal with protesters “behaving badly”.

Pro-Palestinian protesters, some of them masked, chanted at Mr Falter: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

The chant is viewed by some pro-Israel supporters as a way to call for the eradication of the Israeli state. Some pro-Palestinian supporters reject this, saying it is simply expressing the need for equality for all inhabitants of historic Palestine.

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Police investigating after man and woman in 70s found dead in Stoke-on-Trent

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Police investigating after man and woman in 70s found dead in Stoke-on-Trent

Police are investigating after a man and a woman in their 70s were found dead at a house in Stoke-on-Trent.

Officers were called to a report of two bodies found at a property on Catalina Place, Meir Park, at 1pm on Saturday, Staffordshire Police said.

They were pronounced dead at 2.15pm.

Staffordshire Police said: “An investigation is being carried out to establish the circumstances of the incident.

“At this stage, we are confident there is no wider threat or risk to the community.”

The man and woman have not been publicly named.

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Their family are being supported by specialist officers.

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