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Jude Bellingham’s hometown proud of the lad who practised so much he wore the grass out

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As England’s teenage football hero Jude Bellingham returns to the pitch in Qatar on Friday, friends and neighbours in his hometown of Stourbridge in the West Midlands are bursting with pride.And none more so than his former primary school caretaker, who used to fetch the player’s lost ball down from the roof when he was a boy. “It seemed to be a daily occurrence,” Mark Williams tells The Independent. “You could tell then he was quite a good little footballer and he was destined to be.”“He did seem to do that more than any other child.

It became a joke. Every day the ladders were out. I kept them on standby because of that reason.”He adds: “He was a very pleasant lad.

He always asked you to get the ball down nicely.”Bellingham, 19, scored the opening goal for England as the team kicked off the Qatar World Cup with a 6-2 win against Iran this week.This made the midfielder only the second teenager – after Michael Owen – to score for the Three Lions at a World Cup.Bellingham grew up in Hagley, a village near Stourbridge.

He now lives in Germany, where he plays for Borussia Dortmund.Back in the West Midlands, former neighbours, teachers and sports coaches remember him as a youngster always with his football.“They used to set up the goals, put the cones down and play day and night,” one man tells The Independent.The midfielder celebrates scoring England’s first goal in their rout of IranHe also remembers what the small patch of grass down the road near Stourbridge, West Midlands, would look like afterwards.There would be “big bare patches” left behind, the former neighbour, who did not want to be named, says.

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