Jude Bellingham has been one of the stars of the World Cup so far, but some fans have noted that the English midfielder has some strong Irish connections.
The Borussia Dortmund player has played a pivotal role in England's run to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, influential in their midfield play.
Bellingham has earned high praise from pundits. Roy Keane said Bellingham's performances were unlike anything he had seen "for years". He scored in England's opening game against Iran, before being involved in two of their three goals in the last 16 win against Senegal.
The fact that Bellingham is only 19 is the most mind-blowing fact at the centre of all of this, and he is set up to be a star of the future.
Undeniably one of the best young prospects in world football, Jude Bellingham's Irish roots have fans dreaming of what could have been.
Jude Bellingham's Irish connection explored
In a documentary released on Jude Bellingham's journey thus far, an intriguing photo was included which depicted the Dortmund midfield maestro as a child in an Irish jersey (by our reckoning it's the away kit worn across the Brian Kerr and Steve Staunton eras).
Although he's English, this is what we could have had.
Best midfielder in the world right now, Jude Bellingham. Picture from the #JB22 short documentary #COYBIG #Ireland @KennysKids pic.twitter.com/uAP7SSd5rS
— Robbie Gorman (@GormanR) September 26, 2022
Naturally, the photo had fans intrigued, and it turns out that Bellingham is of Irish descent. His father Mark's parents are from Ireland, and Bellingham Sr tweeted as much in 2020 when his son made his debut for Borussia Dortmund, after transferring to Germany from Birmingham City.
Anyway, it's been enjoyable but this half Irish kid is going to go online and watch his mixed race England u21 International son make his competitive debut in the German Cup.
— Mark Bellingham (@Bello1966) September 14, 2020
Evidently, Bellingham's multinational background is a source of pride for his family, with his father also mentioning his England underage caps and his presence in the German league.
17-year-old Jobe Bellingham - Jude's younger brother - is also an exciting prospect and, naturally, is eligible to line out for Ireland in future. He has, however, already played for England at underage level, suggesting that his mind may be made up.
Unlike his fellow Irish-qualified England midfielders Declan Rice and Jack Grealish, Bellingham never lined out for any Irish underage teams, but it's clear that his heritage was a part of his upbringing given the photo of him in an Ireland jersey as a child.
There are several other players in the England squad with Irish ancestry, with Callum Wilson and Harry Maguire also eligible to play for Ireland. Famously, Harry Kane's family hail from the west of Ireland, and the Spurs' strikers Letterfrack roots were explored by RTÉ during England's run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) July 11, 2018
There is surely an alternate universe in which Stephen Kenny goes in to next year's EURO 2024 qualifier against France, able to call on several of the stars who will line out for England against the French in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final.
Jude Bellingham has been heavily linked with some of Europe's top clubs as a result of his performances in Qatar, with Liverpool one of the most frequently mentioned clubs in transfer rumours. Bellingham's England teammate Jordan Henderson seemed to suggest that the Liverpool squad are hoping to see the youngster at Anfield next season, in a clip shared to social media this week.
"Come to Real Madrid!"
Jordan Henderson tells a fan Jude Bellingham won't be going there 🤣 pic.twitter.com/cETkYrJTEs
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 6, 2022
The reemergence of discussion around Jude Bellingham's Irish connection comes days after we spoke to a distant relative of Alexis Mac Allister's, who explained the Argentinean star's ancestry in Donabate, County Dublin.
You don't have to look far for an Irish connection at the World Cup.