Why Jude Bellingham wears the number 22 shirt
Bellingham has chosen the number 22 for a reason
When Jude Bellingham left Birmingham City for Borussia Dortmund, eyebrows were raised when the club decided to retire the number 22 shirt.
Bellingham had only just turned 17, but with 44 appearances to his name for the Blues, the club saw it as a fitting tribute - a way "to remember one of our own and to inspire others".
Having arrived in Germany, Bellingham was again given the number 22. It was, as a recent interview with Birmingham's head of academy makes clear, no coincidence, with the midfielder first choosing the number for a reason during his time in the club's youth ranks.
In an interview given to TalkSPORT2, Mike Dodds recalls Bellingham's journey through Birmingham's youth ranks, explaining that his ability to play in a variety of roles in the middle of the pitch saw him end up with the 22 on his back.
"He would have been about 13 or 14 and like most boys that age, they want to be a number 10," Dodds says.
"I remember, we sat down with him and we said, ‘we think you’re doing yourself a disservice, we think you can do all of it. So we came up with, ‘we think you can be a 22.’
"His eyes lit up and we knew had hooked him from then on in. We said we thought he could be a holding midfielder, or a four. We thought he could be a box-to-box, which is an eight and we thought he could be a scorer and a creator, so a 10.
"And from the age of 13 onwards he has held on to that all the way through and you can see that in his game.
"He made his debut at Birmingham City and he said, ‘I want my squad number to be number 22’ and said the same thing at Dortmund.
"So what I am hoping is that kids are going to look at that and go, ‘I am going to be the next 22’ and he sets a trend off in terms of being able to do everything.
"I genuinely think he can do everything; I think depending on the tactical needs of the game, he can play in all three positions and I think that is what makes him so unique."