As the second half of England’s comfortable 2-0 win over Ukraine unfolded, and fans inside Wembley resisted the temptation of an early snooze, it was possible to identify three of life’s unchallengeable opinions; the sun is hot, water is wet and Jude Bellingham is a sensational footballer.
Bellingham doesn’t turn 20 until the end of June, an age when his compatriots are usually exploring the outer limits of their alcohol tolerance, but his status as one of the world’s best midfielders is already assured.
And the scramble to sign him from Borussia Dortmund is likely to be less dignified than Elon Musk’s Twitter output. Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Real Madrid would each chop their right arm off to secure his signature.
But Liverpool are even more desperate to buy Bellingham; their reasoning behind not signing a midfielder last summer was that the 19-year-old would be the perfect fit at Anfield.
While their chances of actually getting Bellingham remain open for debate, the player himself underlined his quality by controlling the midfield for England against potentially tricky opponents on Sunday.
No Ukraine player could keep possession without Bellingham hunting them down. No England player was left disappointed with Bellingham’s crisp, pinpoint passing.
And one dribble left the Wembley crowd audibly gasping; after receiving the ball from Harry Kane, Bellingham sidestepped one Ukraine defender by shifting the ball from one foot to the other.
As he motored forward, another opponent filled with trepidation at the prospect of dispossessing England’s midfield lynchpin.
Such feelings were entirely correct; Bellingham dissipated the impending danger with the cheekiest of nutmegs before rolling a pass into Bukayo Saka’s path.
In the wake of Bellingham’s imperious performance, Channel 4 viewers were treated to an elongated flirtation between the England midfielder and Steven Gerrard, who was working as a pundit to remind club chairman that he still exists.
Asked why he idolised Gerrard, Bellingham said: “The way he could carry teams, the teams he played for, the way he could single-handedly win a game… he could do everything as a midfielder. I’ve said it multiple times that it’s you (his idol).”
The former Liverpool and England star returned the compliment in some style, saying Bellingham is ahead of where he was at 19 years old.
“Well let me tell you, you’re a lot further ahead than I was at your age. So you’re going in the right direction, that’s for sure,” Gerrard said, while the rest of the C4 team stood by redundantly.
“Well for one he’s got a better body than what I had at 19. I’m being serious! I never had that power and strength until I was 22-23.
“So he’s definitely more physically developed than me. He’s more confident than me on the ball, in terms of trying stuff. I’m not just saying that to be modest, but I think he’s further on than what I was at 19.
“Don’t get me wrong, I got to where I wanted to get to, and he’s going to get to where he wants to if he keeps doing what he’s doing.
“He’s a fantastic player. He just needs to keep playing well, keep playing well and the rest will take care of itself.”
Strong stuff from Gerrard. Liverpool fans will be hoping it’s enough to entice Bellingham to Anfield.
By Michael Lee