STOURBRIDGE’S England football star Jude Bellingham has been credited with putting the Black Country back in the football spotlight for the first time in more than 60 years with his stand-out debut performance in the World Cup.

The teenager, who hails from Stourbridge and went to school in Hagley, scored the first goal in England's first match of the tournament in Qatar with a perfectly executed header.

Bellingham, aged 19, who plays for Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, is only the second teenager to have scored a goal for England in the World Cup. The other was Michael Owen at the age of 18 in the 1998 World Cup in France.

Jude is the eldest son of prolific former Stourbridge FC striker Mark Bellingham, a former West Midlands Police sergeant who retired after 24 years earlier this month.

Bellingham junior joined Birmingham City as an under eight and made his senior debut in 2019 aged 16. He joined Borussia Dortmund in July 2020, becoming their youngest ever goal scorer in his first competitive match. He also represented England at under 16, 17 and 21 levels and made his appearance for the senior team in November 2020 and was selected to represent England in Euro 2020.

He’s long been tipped as a rising star and his maiden goal on Monday showed just why.

His swift score for England got the team’s performance off to a flying start and was swiftly followed by goals from England team-mates Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling - creating a 3-0 lead against Iran ahead of half time. Saka then followed up with a fourth goal for England before goals scored by Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish eventually made it a 6-2 win for England.

Stourbridge MP Suzanne Webb was among those heaping praise on Jude who is depicted in a striking mural on the town’s Ryemarket shopping centre in Market Street.

She said: “Whatever our thoughts on the location of the World Cup, we can all be very proud of Stourbridge’s very own Jude Bellingham who scored the first goal.

“I wish Jude and the entire squad the very best of luck.”

Jude’s man of the match performance for England saw BBC Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand described him as a “a fabulous footballer”.

While former England midfielder Jermaine Jenas, commentating on the game for BBC Radio 5 Live, described Bellingham as “Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard rolled into one” and he said: “He really can do it all.”

Locally, Stourbridge’s Jim Cadman, chairman of Duncan Edwards United, whose efforts have helped to keep alive the achievements of Dudley’s other great player Duncan Edwards, credited Jude with putting “the football spotlight firmly back on the Black Country for the first time in more than 60 years” by reviving memories of the late great Edwards who died following injuries sustained in the Munich air disaster in February 1958.

He said the footballing careers of the pair have followed identical routes with both selected to play for England at every level from schoolboy to full international.

He said: “Black Country boys Bellingham and Edwards made their full international debuts for England at Wembley in their teens 65 years apart.

“Edwards was 18 when he scored for England in a 7-2 win over Scotland in 1955 and Bellingham was a year younger at 17 when he scored for England as they ran out 3-0 winners against Northern Ireland at Wembley in November 2020.

“Both players served their football apprenticeships in the Black Country with Duncan playing for Dudley Boys and Worcestershire Boys while Jude spent his early years playing for Stourbridge.

“Edwards signed for Manchester United in 1952 and was regarded as one of the greatest footballers in the world before his death following the Munich air disaster in February 1958.

“Bellingham joined Birmingham City at under-eights level after leaving Stourbridge and played in the under-23 team at the age of 15. He made his first team debut against Portsmouth in August 2019, becoming City’s youngest ever first-team player, and made 41 first team appearances before signing for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga in July 2020.

“To date, he has scored 19 goals and become one of the most talked about talents in world football.”

He thanked Jude for supporting the Duncan Edwards Peace Field project at the Dell Stadium in Brierley Hill by donating a signed Borussia Dortmund shirt for fundraising and he added: “This ongoing project involves football pitches all over the world being twinned with the site of the iconic 1914 Christmas Truce football match in Belgium in World War One.”

The shirt signed by Bellingham will be auctioned along with the original artwork of the ‘Black Country Boys – White England Shirt Portrait’ by Black Country-based graphic artist Paul Burns at the Duncan Edwards 65th Anniversary Memorial Dinner at the Copthorne Hotel, Brierley Hill, on February 21, 2023.