Shaun Wright-Phillips exclusive: 'I see a lot of similarities between Jude Bellingham and Steven Gerrard'
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Jude Bellingham "has to" start for England and has similarities to former captain Steven Gerrard, according to ex Three Lions star Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Bellingham became England's third-youngest full international in November 2020 when he entered the fray in a friendly with the Republic of Ireland in November 2020.
The Borussia Dortmund sensation has gone from strength to strength in the last couple of seasons and now has 17 caps under his belt.
At Euro 2020, Bellingham was brought as more of a fringe player but the 19-year-old, one of the most sought-after talents in the world, is surely a shoo-in for a starting berth at the World Cup in Qatar.
“I think he has to," Wright-Phillips told SPORTbible when asked if Bellingham has earned a starting spot.
"I know he’s only 19 but what I’ve seen this from this kid – most people probably thought when [Erling] Haaland leaves Borussia Dortmund that there'll be a completely different team and I just thought for a 19-year-old to then be captain when he left and lead the way he has done, I think it's phenomenal.
“No matter what team he comes up against, you get pretty much the exact same performance and that level of consistency and maturity in someone's game at 19 is a rarity.
“I think he he's got a lot of similarities to Stevie G [Steven Gerrard] to be honest with you. It'll be interesting to see at the minute, he seems to be doing what Stevie G did at Liverpool, at Dortmund, where he’s basically pulling a team forward.
“He’s got a very, very bright future ahead of him and I'm looking forward to watching it.”
England have performed exceptionally well at the last two tournaments, reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and coming so close in the Euros before losing on penalties.
Much has been made about manager Gareth Southgate's approach, with many feeling as though he needs to take the shackles off.
Wright-Phillips, capped 36 times for England, believes Southgate doesn't need to change too many things.
“The way I’ve seen England play at the minute, they rely more on the caution side of things, which I understand to a degree, but I think from the fans’ perspective, you kind of go to a game to be entertained.
“So that's what you want to see. And normally you say, give the fans what they want that if they do that, and they get knocked out, they get the same grief as they would if they didn't.
“So he might as well stick with what he's doing because then at least it’s his way if he fails, rather than doing something that he's not familiar with. So it will be interesting to see what England do.”
In terms of the leading contenders for the tournament, Wright-Phillips thinks holders France, Spain and Germany are the three favourites and gives England an outside
He explained: "I will give England and outside shout because they've shown us what they can do obviously after the Euros.
“But I think you've got to keep your eye out for your teams like France, Spain, and Germany, because no matter how bad you think Germany do through the qualifying stages, come tournament, they always click into gear, and they just seem like it's just come second to none.”
Wright-Phillips, 41, retired from football in 2019. But he is keen on making an impact on football fans days before the World Cup by urging them to gamble responsibly.
The showpiece is a prolific occasion for a flurry of bets and the former Chelsea and Manchester City winger is calling for caution.
“I think football is a fun game and it's meant to be enjoyed in all the right ways. I think as soon as you start going down that road, where you're having one beer, drinking, and then maybe having more bets after that, it's going lead you into a dark place where you're not enjoying the football match as much as you really want to.
“I think it's easily done. One bet can have a powerful impact on you, it might be that one bet that you lose, then you start chasing.
“Or it might be that one bet, where you win, and you feel like you're going to win all the time. But I've found with within family and friends, the house always wins. So it comes back around full circle whether with we like to believe it or not, if you don't know when to get out.
“And most people, if they're winning all the time, are not going to get out. And I suppose in a way the bets would get bigger and bigger as you feel more confident.
“Be careful. I’d say don’t' drink and bet for a start. Don't chase if you're losing. And for me, just enjoy the game without having to bet in general.
“I think the more people that are aware of the possibilities, the dark places and the harm it can cause, not only to you because it can cause it to your family because your personality will naturally change as well.
“The more awareness there is built up around that is better. I think that the unique timing of when the World Cup has been put on, so close to Christmas, the cost of living as we all know has gone through the roof - it's just all too close together
“And I think Gamble Aware is giving people a way and tips to maybe if you want to bet, bet cleverly or smartly, and do it the right way.”
He's well into the cryptocurrency scene but Wright-Phillips does not class himself as an avid punter. However, in just placing the odd bet here and there, he's aware of the vicious cycle one can get swept up in.
“I'm a bad loser so gambling is not really my thing. I've had like a flutter of ten pound. And then I'll just put a stupid accumulator of 20 teams with the likelihood that winning is pretty slim, but it's ten pound and I can win all of this.
“But just from doing that every now and again, once in a blue moon, I can see how easy it is to get sucked into that because it can become a regular or a weekly thing.
“Because you think,’Well, it's only ten pound but I can win this much’. Before you know it by the end of the year your ten pounds is way more than that. And then you're in that bad situation.”
Shaun Wright-Phillips is supporting GambleAware's new campaign to help protect fans from gambling harms this winter. The campaign helps football fans who gamble to avoid ‘Bet Regret’ over the coming weeks, by offering practical advice – from setting time and money limits, to deleting apps as well as helping fans to spot the early warning signs of gambling harms. Search "BeGambleAware" for advice and support for staying in control of your gambling.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
Topics: England, Football World Cup, Jude Bellingham, Steven Gerrard