Jude Bellingham has been so good at Real Madrid they think he’s ‘from another PLANET’… the England star uses an app to understand Spanish, has a live-in private chef to help stay in peak shape and he’s even teaching his team-mates about the Beatles!
- Jude Bellingham has been a revelation at Real Madrid since arriving this summer
- He has private chef Alberto Mastromatteo living with him and his mum Denise
- Southgate’s loyalty to his players is an issue and a weakness – It’s All Kicking Off
Speaking in Lisbon this week the head of LaLiga, Javier Tebas was talking about the impact of Jude Bellingham.
‘It’s as if he’s from another planet’, said the Spanish League president.
Stourbridge is not another planet but it is a world away from the Spanish capital where Bellingham has made a better start to life at Real Madrid than any new signing before him.
And Germany’s eighth largest city, Dortmund, where Bellingham was before, also has very little in common with Madrid. Many expected the 20-year-old to struggle adapting to an alien environment. But, just as he has done on the pitch, Bellingham hasn’t broken stride in his new surroundings.
The signs were positive right from the start. Shortly after his presentation he went out for dinner with two of the other new arrivals at the club and he did so at one of Madrid’s most quintessential restaurants.
Jude Bellingham (middle, in black jumper) has been a hit with his team-mates at Real Madrid – but the England star is using an app on his phone to understand dressing room conversations
He has struck up close friendships with Eduardo Camavinga (right) and Aurelien Tchouameni
The Englishman (second from right) has been described as ‘from another planet’ given form
Real Madrid fans have adopetd him like a native Spaniard, which makes him different to others
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Bellingham sat down with 18-year-old Arda Guler, who had just arrived from Turkey, and 24-year-old Brahim Diaz, who had returned from a loan spell at Milan, at the ‘De Maria’ steakhouse a 10-minute walk from the Santiago Bernabeu.
The walls of the restaurant are covered with pictures of its illustrious clientele (including many present and former Madrid players) and the tables are packed, lunchtimes and late-nights, with Madridleños tucking into Argentinian beef, the finest Foie gras, along with side orders of soufflé potato crisps, and followed by ‘Dulce de Leche’ pancakes.
The new recruits did not go ‘access all areas’ of the menu. There were pineapple slices instead of the calorie-loaded alternative deserts for example – the preseason weigh-in was already on the horizon.
But taking a step into a place so typical of the Spanish capital was ‘start-as-we-mean-to-go-on’ statement from Bellingham right at the beginning of his Spanish adventure.
His signing had raised several concerns when it was first rumoured last summer. The price seemed high for a player who was still young (only 19 when he signed) and inexperienced with only two seasons in a top European League behind him. And the second doubt was regarding his nationality – Brits have not always fitted in at Madrid.
He takes his fitness regime and his diet very seriously, with strict plans in place to follow
He is reaping the rewards of that with goals aplenty in his first season since joining Real Madrid
Chins were scratched and eyebrows arched at the prospect of ‘another Michael Owen who never projected wanting to be in Spain; or even another Gareth Bale who drove away from the club after seven seasons with a truck full of medals, but who never seemed to embrace his host country’s culture in the way the locals would have liked.
Bale never gave any extensive interviews in Spanish despite taking lessons when he first arrived at the club. Bellingham was throwing Spanish phrases into interviews as early as pre-season, charming the club’s in-house television channel with a genuine desire to speak in the native tongue.
He had an app installed on his phone to help him understand the conversations taking place in the dressing room.
And this international break – without games because he is still recovering from dislocating his shoulder at the start of the month – there will be a time to fast-track the process a little.
It is not easy. The club provides classes, usually three times a week. But training and playing demands tend to eat into study time and he has not joined a club where Spanish is the only language spoken.
He has maintained a good relationship with Brahim, whose English is excellent, but he has also formed strong bonds with French speakers Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni and Portuguese speakers Vinicius and Rodrygo.
‘He’s really nice,’ Rodrygo told Cadena Cope on Monday. ‘He doesn’t speak Spanish yet and I don’t speak much English but we get on well.’
Bellingham mocked up a version of The Beatles’ famous Abbey Road picture for Real Madrid’s midfield. (L-R: Fede Valverde, Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni)
Bellingham has enlisted the help of private chef to the stars Alberto Mastromatteo (right)
The international group get by on a mix of different levels of Spanish and on their own varying levels of English. Fede Valverde is another in Bellingham’s close group, his Spanish with a Uruguayan accent is another test of Jude’s improving grasp of his new language, although he also speaks English.
Bellingham recently tweeted a mock-up picture of the young midfield quartet he is now part of, on a zebra crossing in the style of the Abbey Road album cover. It was after the Clasico, where Barcelona had made plenty of the fact that the Rolling Stones were on their shirts and in the stands watching, but it was ‘Hey Jude’ who had scored twice to win the game.
Camavinga has only just turned 21, Tchouameni is only 23 and Valverde is just 25. In front of them they have Rodrygo and Vinicius who are 22 and 23 respectively. It was perhaps inevitable that a group of players with similar ages and all young full internationals would have plenty in common, but Bellingham has helped foster a group spirit by taking care of the small details – the tweet of the Abbey Road picture is an illustration of that.
He took care of business earlier in the season too to ensure an away-day jaunt for the young group. It was before the first international break of the season it was his late goal with just nine minutes left of an away game at Celta Vigo that earned the team a day off.
The game was played on a Friday and Carlo Ancelotti had promised both the Saturday and Sunday off if they won the match. With his late goal ‘Belli’ as his team-mates call him locked-in a trip to the Verde Beach Club in Saint-Tropez.
‘What a day,’ Tchouameni posted on Instagram after the Sunday excursion.
Embracing the social aspect of playing for Real Madrid in a way that no Brit has done since David Beckham became such close pals with Ronaldo Nazario and Roberto Carlos after his 2003 signing, should not give the impression that Bellingham is dancing in the moonlight when he should be getting his eight hours sleep.
At home with mum Denise, who is in Madrid with him while father Mark stays in England with Jude’s brother Jobe, he is as professionally methodical about his down-time as he is about training. And despite that very early expedition to the exclusive steakhouse, he takes his diet very seriously.
Bellingham is living in Spain with his mum Denise, with his dad (far right) staying back in England to help the Real Madrid star’s younger brother Jobe (left), who plays for Sunderland
He has contracted the services of the same chef, Alberto Mastromatteo, who helped transform the diet of Karim Benzema, helping him to maintain his fitness well into his thirties; winning the Ballon d’Or aged 34.
Mastromatteo’s company Summumm looks after the physical and mental well-being of various top athletes around the world, including Bellingham’s team-mate Camavinga and he now counts the England international among his clients.
After a detailed biometrical study of Bellingham at the start of the season a recommended weekly diet was sent to the Summumm chef that lives in-house with the player and his mum.
The diet is believed to be high in rice, oats, quinoa, fresh vegetables, fish and some lean meat.
But Summumm founder Mastromatteo’s philosophy is that young players also need to relax, and if the very occasional plate of chips or a portion of Spanish tortilla helps with that then it can only be a good thing.
Bellingham, by all accounts, is a fan of both dishes, as you would expect from an Englishman who is feeling right at home in Madrid.
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