Brazil brutally targeted Jude Bellingham – and he had better get used to it this summer


Jude Bellingham - Brazil brutally targeted Jude Bellingham – and he had better get used to it this summer

The boos from the Brazil supporters inside Wembley should be worn as a badge of honour by Jude Bellingham, but England’s star attraction is going to have to get used to being the target of football’s wind-up merchants.

There have not been many England players down the years who Brazil fans have been bothered by and it says it all that Bellingham was a marked man on Saturday night.

While Bellingham will not have to worry about Brazil this summer, the South Americans gave him a taste of what he can expect in the European Championships.

Not only will he get targeted by envious opposition fans, who now watch him playing for Real Madrid, Bellingham will also get wound up and kicked by his opponents on the pitch in Germany.

It was just under 20 minutes in that Bellingham got the bird from the corner of Wembley decked out in yellow and green, not long after he had been booked for a foul on Newcastle United’s Bruno Guimaraes.

Bellingham had flown into the late tackle that floored Guimaraes, who made the very most of it – presumably hoping to see a red card.

The booking annoyed Bellingham, who had already received some late kicks that went unpunished and he took a risk by placing both hands on the shoulders of Portuguese referee Artur Ribeiro Soares Dias.

He was not aggressive and was merely protesting his innocence, but we’ve seen how rash referees can be in the heat of tournaments and it would not be wise for Bellingham to handle an official at the Euros.

Bellingham and referee Artur Manuel SoaresBellingham and referee Artur Manuel Soares

Bellingham will have to handle officials better at the Euros this summer – Getty Images

Bellingham has already had a warning at his club after being sent-off for hounding a referee who disallowed what the player had thought was a last-gasp winner for Real Madrid against Valencia.

The protests at Wembley were nowhere near as aggressive. But they did not stop after Bellingham had put his hands on the referee, as he continued to complain when the game had to be stopped because of Kyle Walker’s injury.

Again, he did not overstep the mark but England know only too well that emotions need to be kept in check at tournaments – just ask Wayne Rooney and David Beckham.

England manager Gareth Southgate will be encouraged that Bellingham did not concede another foul after his booking, despite the rough treatment he received, and regained his composure.

Other than some joshing with his Madrid team-mate Vinicius Junior, it was clearly part of the Brazil plan to try to rile Bellingham and kick him out of his stride because they could barely stop him otherwise.

During his 67 minutes on the pitch, Bellingham was fouled five times, twice more than any other player for either side.

Bellingham could not believe it when Lucas Paqueta escaped a second yellow card for a cynical foul on him. The West Ham midfielder used up more lives than an adventurous cat and somehow remained on the pitch.

Bellingham’s appeals to the official were once again ignored and Paqueta passed over the responsibility of stopping the 20-year-old Joao Gomes, who fouled him either side of half-time but received no punishment. Between them, Paqueta and Gomes conceded 11 fouls at Wembley.

Starting the highest of England’s midfielders, Bellingham at times looked like he was partnering striker Ollie Watkins. But he had licence to roam and often picked the ball up near the halfway line with the intention of running towards Brazil’s penalty area.

He rolled and turned opponents, swapped passes with his team-mates and rode tackles, but every time he looked like he was going to break through or run clear, Bellingham would get another kick or a sly pull.

His two attempts on goal came in the second half, with an audacious attempted lob bouncing wide of the post and a header also dropping off target after which he needed some help from the Brazilians for cramp.

Despite standing out as England’s best player, Bellingham cut a frustrated figure when he was substituted by Southgate, who put an arm around him and offered some words into his ear.

Bellingham cut a frustrated figure when he was substituted by SouthgateBellingham cut a frustrated figure when he was substituted by Southgate

Bellingham cut a frustrated figure when he was substituted by Southgate – Getty Images/Vince Mignott

Southgate had been wise to dodge a question about Bellingham’s temperament when he announced his squad for the Brazil and Belgium friendlies, saying: “What I will not do is have, ‘Southgate warns arguably the best player we’ve had for decades’ all over the back pages! I know that is great fodder.”

While he laughed at the end of the exchange, Southgate is conscious of the attention Bellingham is receiving from opponents, supporters, the media and the wider world.

He also knows that Bellingham is a winner, which is why Endrick’s late winner, while he was watching from the touchline, will have hurt far more than any of the fouls from Paqueta and Gomes.

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