World Cup 2022 column: Glenn Hoddle hails Bellingham's "astounding maturity" and tips England for World Cup glory as France test looms large

BTSport.com spoke to former Three Lions manager Glenn Hoddle after England cruised past Senegal to set up a mouth-watering quarter-final clash with world champions France

By Callum Davis Published: 5 December 2022 - 3.13pm
Glenn Hoddle and Jude Bellingham

Former Three Lions boss Glenn Hoddle has tipped England star boy Jude Bellingham for greatness

Glenn Hoddle has compared Jude Bellingham to one of England's 1966 World Cup-winning heroes after the 19-year-old produced another swashbuckling performance to help steer the Three Lions into the last eight in Qatar.

After his goalscoring World Cup debut against Iran two weeks ago, Bellingham was again the man of the hour as England eased into the quarter-finals with a commanding 3-0 win over Senegal.

He set up the opener for fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson and then produced an electrifying run from deep inside his own half to launch the attack that led to Harry Kane making it 2-0 moments before half-time.

His assist for Henderson made him the first teenager to assist for a World Cup knockout-round goal since records began, underlining his burgeoning reputation as one of the most-sought after players on the planet.

With a blockbuster quarter-final showdown with holders France in store, Hoddle gave btsport.com his take on Bellinhgam, plus England's chances of emulating the boys of 1966 and winning the biggest the prize in world football.

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A clinical England side overcame a pedestrian start as high-quality goals by Henderson, Kane and Saka booked their place in the last eight for the second-straight World Cup.

England took a long time to impose themselves on the African champions, a team they had never faced before, and survived a couple of scares before two goals late in the first half changed the feel of the night and it was no contest after the break.

The win set up a mouth-watering World Cup quarter-final clash with France but it was the performance of Borussia Dortmund star boy Bellingham that had everyone purring, including former Three Lions boss Hoddle, who compared his talent to 1966 World Cup winner, Martin Peters.

Peters, who died in 2019 aged 76, was a key figure in England’s 1966 World Cup side, and a footballer of such intelligence and sophistication that the manager of that winning team, Alf Ramsey, hailed him as “10 years ahead of his time”.

"His confidence and maturity is so impressive for his age," said Hoddle of Bellingham's virtuoso performance.

"He’s 19 years of age but he’s playing at such a consistent level that you would think he was an experienced 28-year-old.

"He is relatively new to international football, but it looks like nothing fazes him. He believes he can take on whoever he’s up against.

"Many moons ago, Sir Alf Ramsey said Martin Peters was 10 years ahead of his time and this kid is the same, on and off the pitch.

"He looks like he’s a player in his prime already. It's quite incredible to think so what he’s going to be like in five or six years time."

Jude Bellingham (left) provided the cross for Jordan Henderson to score England's opener

England were struggling to contain Senegal in the first half but Bellingham grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck to turn the tide for England.

The Birmingham City academy graduate won the most duels, tackles, won possession twice in the final third and completed 23 of 24 passes, the best ratio of anyone else on the pitch to underline his status as one of Southgate's most important players.

"People say he is the perfect modern-day midfielder, but he’s a bit of a throwback," said Hoddle.

"Teams used to play 4-4-2 and the two players in midfield had to do a little bit of everything – and he’s got that in him.

"For the first 35 minutes against Senegal we were poor, but he was the one player that was willing to look for the ball, put his foot in and turn the performance around.

"If you look at the first goal, he won the ball on the edge of our penalty area, showed a turn of pace to burst through the centre of midfield and then had the guile to lay off the pass to Foden and Harry finished it off."

Not since the days of Wayne Rooney, Paul Gascogine and Michael Owen has a player so young had such a transformational effect on England at a major tournament. 

Owen burst onto the world stage as a part of Hoddle's England side at France 1998 and the ex-Three Lions boss sees echoes of the 2001 Ballon d'Or winner in Bellingham.

An 18-year-old Michael Owen announced himself on the world stage under Glenn Hoddle at France 98

"Jude looks to have a really good mentality, just as Michael did," he said.

"Michael was a very young player when he burst onto the scene but he showed his maturity throughout that World Cup.

"We went down to 10 men against Argentina but I decided to keep him on because he had already shown me had that understanding of the game and Bellingham has the same thing.

"You can see he has a great football brain and that allows him to be calm on the pitch.

"The maturity he has is astounding. If he has an off game I imagine he will bounce back very quickly, he’s one of those where it won’t affect him in the slightest.

"I don’t see all this attention going to his head, he’s built for it. I think we will see him in the Premier League or a side like Real Madrid very soon."

Golden Boot frontrunner Kylian Mbappe will be hoping to fire France to back-to-back World Cup semi-finals

England spent little time celebrating Sunday's win before turning their thoughts to thier blockbuster quarter-final against reigning champions France and current tournament top scorer Kylian Mbappe

"We have a brilliant tie, haven't we?" said head coach Gareth Southgate of Saturday's mouth-watering match between the two European powers.

"It's the biggest test that we could face. They're world champions. Incredible depth of talent, outstanding individual players... so it's a brilliant game for us to be involved in and test ourselves against the very best."

The last meeting World Cup meeting between the two old rivals ended in a 3-1 victory for the Three Lions and Hoddle believes England will become favourites for the World Cup if history repeats itself on Saturday night.

"I really do believe this game is like a final for us. If we win this game the rest of the world will fear us," he said.

"Everything has gone to plan so far and there’s no reason to think we can’t continue.

"No team will want to play us right now. We’re the top goalscorers in the competition, the only team still unbeaten and they’ve not even had a yellow card! It really is unheard of, especially in this day and age.

"If we beat France, which will be a tough game, I really do think we can go all the way and win this.

"With the spirit in the camp, those players in that squad all believe they can do something special."