Jude Bellingham was such a cult-hero at Birmingham City the club ‘retired’ the number 22 shirt in his honour.
And in his new adopted city of Dortmund, walls are adorned with murals dedicated to the talented teenager.
Yet there is a third, more unlikely place, where the 17-year-old has a devoted fan club – a school in Kenya.
For the past two years Bellingham has been helping to raise funds for Miche Bora school in a deprived area of Mombasa.
He has also personally donated towards the construction of a classroom and given local football teams new kits.
More than 300 kids now attend classes at the school, which regularly achieves above-average exam results.
Bellingham is a cult-hero to the soccer-mad youngsters, who will be cheering on the player and England at Euro 2020.
The school’s success is down to the UK-based Mustard Seed Project, which the midfielder is an ambassador for.
British founder Rita Fowler praised Bellingham for the help he has given them in raising much-needed cash.
Rita, 74, from Market Deeping, Lincs, told the Mirror: “We’re ever so grateful for everything he has done for us.
“Footballers get some bad press these days but Jude is such a pleasant, down-to-earth young man.
“He’s so mature for his age. He’s just a really nice guy. He is the sort of son you hope to have yourself.
“When I first met him he wasn’t quite 16 but was so mature and polite. Not like most teenagers!”
Bellingham’s dad Mark, a police officer, works with Rita’s daughter and told him about the project.
It was started by Rita and her husband Geoff, 76, in 2009 after they visited Kenya on holiday.
“I was a teacher and wanted to visit a school out there,” she said. “I couldn’t believe the conditions and decided to do something.
“We’ve gone from 17 children in 2009 to over 300 now. The project has made such a difference to their lives.
“Jude’s help has been fantastic. He got some sports gear for us to take out for the kids on one of our trips.
“He also set up online fundraising pages for us, including a current one to support a feeding programme.
“And more recently he made a generous donation at Christmas to help with the building.
“Jude has also pledged to support us going forward, which was a really nice gesture.
“The kids all know who Jude is and the boys all want to be him. They all think they will be professional footballers.
“They live in a very poor community but some have old TVs, so if England is on they will be cheering Jude.”
In an interview last year Bellingham, who turns 18 during Euro 2020, spoke of his pride at supporting the Mustard Seed Project.
“It’s something I’m really passionate about,” he said.
“It’s not a very wealthy country and a lot of people go into a school without good facilities.
Jude with Geoff and Rita [Courtesy]
“It’s important to me to help that kind of community when I can. I’m trying to raise money and awareness through social media.
“I think it is something that I’m obliged to do being in the position that I am.
“I’m really eager to get out there at some point as well to see what I can do directly to help.
“I want to be remembered, not just for football but for my actions off the pitch.
“The only way I can do that is by carrying on doing what I’ve started to set in motion.
“The more attention I get from doing good things on the pitch, hopefully that will crossover to the charity.”
Rita said Bellingham’s maturity and kindness is a testament to the “fantastic upbringing” he had.


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