England and Scotland’s Champions League representatives return to action this week with some looking to maintain momentum and others determined to kick-start their campaigns.

Holders Manchester City and Newcastle currently top their respective groups while Arsenal are well placed after two games, but Manchester United and Celtic are yet to open their accounts.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the teams the British contenders face in the latest round of fixtures.

Manchester United v Copenhagen (Tuesday)


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Danish champions Copenhagen began their campaign in the second qualifying round, easing past Iceland’s Breidablik 8-3 on aggregate, but were extended much further to secure their place in the play-offs as they drew 0-0 with Sparta Prague at the Parken Stadium before progressing 4-2 on penalties after an eventful 3-3 draw in the Czech capital.

Polish champions Rakow Czestochowa provided the opposition as they fought for a place in the group stage and a 1-0 away win in the first leg proved decisive as the sides drew 1-1 in Denmark in the return.

Copenhagen are currently a point clear of Silkeborg and Brondby at the top of the Danish Superliga, but have won only once in their last four games in all competitions – Saturday’s 2-1 home victory over lowly Vejle BK.

They launched their Group A campaign with a 2-2 draw at Galatasaray, where they led 2-0 before defender Elias Jelert was sent off and were beaten 2-1 at home by Bayern Munich last time out, having gone ahead once again.

The game could prove something of a family affair for United striker Rasmus Hojlund, 20, who could come up against 18-year-old twin brothers Oscar and Emil, both part of former club Copenhagen’s squad for the competition.

Sevilla v Arsenal (Tuesday)

Sevilla are making their ninth appearance in the group stage and qualified as a result of extending their record as UEFA Cup or Europa League winners to seven with a penalty shoot-out victory over Roma in last season’s final in Budapest.

They have not made it to the last 16 in their last two attempts and welcome the Gunners to the Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, having drawn both their Group B fixtures to date.

The Spaniards led French side Lens 1-0 at home in their opener courtesy of Lucas Ocampos’ early strike, but had to settle for a point after Angelo Fulgini levelled and they were pegged back once again in a dramatic conclusion to their trip to PSV Eindhoven, where they were 1-0 up and 2-1 ahead before Jordan Teze snatched a 2-2 draw deep into stoppage time.

Sevilla, who lost to Manchester City on penalties in August’s European Super Cup clash in Athens, finished 11th in last season’s LaLiga table, 39 points adrift of champions Barcelona and again find themselves in mid-table.

They have won only two of their 12 games in all competitions to date this season, but drew a second-successive league game on Saturday, when visitors Real Madrid needed a Daniel Carvajal equaliser to emerge with a point.

Celtic v Atletico Madrid (Wednesday)


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Twice runners-up – on both occasions to derby rivals Real Madrid – Atletico have genuine Champions League pedigree, although they failed to make the last 16 for the first time in five seasons in 2022-23.

The sides have met on six previous occasions in European competition with the Spaniards having come out on top four times, the last of them a 1-0 Europa League victory at Celtic Park in November 2011, with the Scottish champions’ only reward two draws.

Atleti currently top Group E on goals scored ahead of Lazio with both sides on four points and Feyenoord a point behind.

They drew 1-1 in Rome – where the Serie A side were indebted to goalkeeper Ivan Provedel’s last-gasp equaliser – and twice came from behind at the Estadio Metropolitano, where Alvaro Morata’s double either side of an Antoine Griezmann strike secured a 3-2 victory over the Dutchmen.

Diego Simeone’s men head into the game on the back of a six-match winning run culminating in Saturday’s 3-0 league victory at Celta Vigo.

Newcastle v Borussia Dortmund (Wednesday)

Last season’s Bundesliga runners-up, Dortmund were European champions in 1997 and went down 2-1 to compatriots Bayern Munich in the 2013 final.

They have made it to the knockout stage of the Champions League in eight of their 10 most recent campaigns, but went out to Chelsea in the round of 16 last season.

Their record in England, however, does not augur well with seven of their last eight visits having ended in defeat – both the Blues and Manchester City got the better of them last season.

Dortmund have collected just a single point from their two Group F outings to date, but are yet to find the back of the net following a 2-0 defeat at Paris St Germain and a 0-0 home draw with AC Milan.

However, the reverse in Paris remains the only one they have suffered in 11 games in all competitions and they have won their last five league games – the most recent of them a 1-0 victory over Werder Bremen on Friday – to sit two points adrift of early leaders Bayer Leverkusen.

Young Boys v Manchester City (Wednesday)

The Swiss champions are playing in the Champions League for the 10th time having missed out on a place in last season’s Europa League after a play-off defeat by Anderlecht.

They collected five points from their six games on their last appearance in 2021-22 and finished bottom of their group as a result.

Young Boys won their first home Champions League game against an English club – Tottenham in a 2010-11 play-off – but eventually went down 6-3 on aggregate and their last, a 2-1 victory over Manchester United in September 2021 on a night when Cristiano Ronaldo scored but Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off.

They went down 3-1 at home to Leipzig in their opening fixture, but were denied victory at Red Star Belgrade when Osman Bukari’s late goal ensured it ended 2-2.

They are unbeaten in four games in all competitions, but were held to a goalless home draw by FC Zurich on Saturday.

What the papers say

Jadon Sancho is looking increasingly likely to call time at Old Trafford in January. The Daily Mail, citing Sky Germany, says the 23-year-old winger has been in regular contact with former club Borussia Dortmund, amid his stand-off with Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag.

Staying with the Red Devils, Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite has emerged on the club’s radar for a potential January move. According to the Mail, the centre-back is viewed as a potential replacement should Harry Maguire depart the club in the new year. Branthwaite is also wanted by Manchester City, having impressed on loan at PSV Eindhoven.

And The Telegraph reports former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard is open to replacing Michael Beale as Rangers manager.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Lionel Messi: The Daily Mirror says the Inter Miami forward will return to his first club, Newell’s Old Boys, when his contract expires in 2025.

Jeremie Frimpong: The left-back is set to re-sign with Bayer Leverkusen, according to the Daily Record.

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli insists his side are full of confidence as they look to get their first Champions League Group F win at Borussia Dortmund.

The Rossoneri, last season’s semi-finalists, were held to a goalless draw at home by Newcastle in their opening match, while Dortmund lost away to Paris St Germain.

Pioli’s team, though, have since won three straight Serie A games, with their only defeat so far this season a 5-1 loss to city rivals Inter.

Defeat in Paris is Dortmund’s sole loss from eight games in all competitions – and Pioli is expecting a vociferous atmosphere when AC Milan run out at the Westfalenstadion on Wednesday night

“Our recent wins in the league have given us confidence but now, tomorrow is all that matters,” Pioli told a press conference.

“Two years ago, when we played at Anfield, we were probably a bit afraid. But after a journey in Europe like ours, we’re able to compete in the competition and with atmospheres like this.

“We need to play with the right mentality and do all we can to try to win. The game is important in the group but there’s a long way to go, regardless of the outcome tomorrow. It won’t be decisive but the result will definitely matter.”

Pioli also highlighted Dortmund’s incredible home record in the Champions League.

He added: “They’ve not lost at home in the Champions League in almost two years.

“Dortmund play attacking football; they’re quick and have a lot of quality. We’ll need to be intelligent enough to attack the spaces and control the game at various moments.

“BVB are backed by a fantastic home support; we’ve spoken about these little details in training to be in the best shape possible for tomorrow evening.”

AC Milan look set to be without English midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who went off during the first half of Saturday’s Serie A win over Lazio with a groin problem.

French defender Pierre Kalulu has missed the last five games with a thigh injury, while midfielder Rade Krunic is also out with a similar issue and not expected to return until after the international break later in October.

Dortmund won 3-1 at Hoffenheim on Friday night before turning their attention back on the Champions League.

Despite having three victories from their last four games in all competitions, Dortmund coach Edin Terzic wants his side fully focussed on the challenge ahead.

“It will be a completely different game to the one against Paris (in the opening group game),” Terzic told a press conference.

“We have to be braver when we don’t have the ball. Milan have a different way of playing, but we have introduced a lot of good things in the last few games that will be crucial again.

“At this level, no game will be easy, but we have our first home game, with our guys and the fans in the stadium, so we want to get our first win tomorrow.”

Dortmund midfielder Marcel Sabitzer is closing in on a return from an adductor problem suffered against PSG, but the Austrian is not expected to be involved on Wednesday night.

Kylian Mbappe grabbed yet another Champions League goal as Paris St Germain saw off a stubborn Borussia Dortmund 2-0 in their Group F opener.

The France forward took his tally to 41 goals in just 62 appearances among Europe’s elite with a controversial penalty early in the second half.

Achraf Hakimi added the second as PSG bounced back from Friday’s surprise domestic defeat at home to Nice.

The French champions now sit top of their group after AC Milan drew 0-0 with Newcastle in the earlier match.

The hosts created their first chance after only three minutes when Mbappe won a free-kick on the left wing.

Ousmane Dembele’s cross fell to Lucas Hernandez inside the six-yard box but he could only prod the loose ball wide.

But Dortmund started brightly too with Mats Hummels, who scored twice in a 4-2 win at Freiburg at the weekend, headed an early corner over before Donyell Malen’s shot was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma.

They had a let-off after 20 minutes when Vitinha found a yard of space in the area and sent his shot crashing back off the inside of a post.

Warren Zaire-Emery was following up but was unable to adjust his feet in time to tap into an empty net.

Mbappe sent a drive wide and Dembele hit the side-netting towards the end of a frustrating first half for the hosts, while Dortmund survived a VAR check for a soft handball shot against Niklas Sule.

But the visitors had no such luck 70 seconds into the second half when Sule was penalised for handling as he dived in to block Mbappe’s shot.

The effort looked destined more for the corner flag than the goal but, despite another VAR review, referee Jesus Gil Manzano’s decision stood and Mbappe stepped up to confidently to tuck away the spot-kick.

Just before the hour PSG wrapped up the victory when Vitinha played in Hakimi, who showed a neat turn of foot to beat his marker before tucking the ball away.

Jamie Bynoe-Gittens hit the woodwork for Dortmund but the visitors never really looked capable of threatening a comeback.

Mbappe should have had a second in stoppage time after a lightning break but his chip flew wide.

Paris St Germain boss Luis Enrique has admitted his team’s start to the season has not been good enough as they prepare to host Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League opener on Tuesday.

PSG have won just two of their opening five league games and suffered their first defeat on Friday when they were beaten 3-2 at home by Nice, leaving the reigning champions three points behind leaders Monaco.

Having taken charge in the summer, Enrique admits he is still getting used to his new side so has no cause for concern about developments so far, and promised that improved performances and results will start to come.

He told a press conference: “It is true it hasn’t been a great start, but when I start coaching a club, there is a lot of information I take in, a lot of situations to bear in mind.

“I have a very receptive team that is full of desire to take on new ideas, I am delighted with the conduct of the players and the team. The fans are fantastic, bringing total unconditional support, despite not so good results.

“It is a long process and from my experience I know it takes time. I am not wasting time because I already know how this works. I am very calm here, we will certainly be playing good football and getting good results.”

PSG have been among the favourites to win the Champions League in recent seasons but will be without some notable names this time around, with star forwards Lionel Messi and Neymar having left this summer while experienced midfielder Marco Verratti joined Al-Arabi last week.

The perennial Ligue 1 champions have yet to win the competition but came close in 2020, losing 1-0 to Bayern Munich in the final. They also reached the semi-final the following year but since then the big-spending French giants have fallen short of expectations with round of 16 exits in successive years.

Enrique still holds hope of bringing the trophy back to Paris but does not want to become obsessed over the idea.

He added: “We will have to see how the competition goes, football is a marvellous sport.

“Any result is possible, and in theory, any team can win. You can play well and lose. You might play badly and win. As a club we are convinced and motivated in every competition we are taking part in.

“The aim is to go as far as possible and try to win all of them. That is the objective of this club, it is ambitious.

“When a person or a team or club is obsessed with something, it is not a good sign. You need to be excited, you have to have hope and ambition. But being obsessed doesn’t work in any part of life.

“So we are excited and motivated. We are full of desire to put on a show for our fans, and we are looking forward to the start of this competition.”

Enrique thinks their defeat to Nice has little to do with their upcoming European encounter with Dortmund, who are unbeaten themselves in the league so far.

Edin Terzic’s men are seventh in the Bundesliga with eight points from four games, sitting two points behind leaders Bayer Leverkusen following Saturday’s 4-2 win at Freiburg.

The Spaniard said: “The Nice game has nothing to do with the Dortmund game. They are different games in different competitions.

“There are many areas for improvement and many things of the team are doing well. I think the most important thing is what the fans can see, which is the team’s attitude. We don’t give up.”

Beating Jude Bellingham at FIFA and two hours of German lessons a day have helped Jamie Bynoe-Gittens settle in at Borussia Dortmund.

The unassuming 19-year-old sits in St George’s Park explaining how his life in the German city has helped him grow.

The last of Dortmund’s English trio, the former Chelsea youngster has developed while Bellingham and Jadon Sancho shone to earn their mega-money moves.

Bynoe-Gittens made his debut less than 18 months ago but has settled well. His lessons, having joined from Manchester City in 2020, have left him “near fluent” as he matures away from the Premier League spotlight.

“Not everybody spoke English when I arrived. That was very hard for me because, at the time, I only spoke English. I had to learn German quickly,” he says.

“I remember looking for something like shampoo in the supermarket and you’ve got to find where it is and you might need to ask someone. It’s hard, you know.

“The word is the same, so maybe that’s an easy one to find! But maybe if you were going to the shops or getting the bus to town and having to find the right way to go…

“At school I tried to speak French and that didn’t really work. German is difficult – it’s really hard to learn and it takes time. But when you live here, you pick it up.

“I was a very shy person back then, so I had to learn to speak more and to ask for things that I might not ordinarily have asked for.

“The first year was tough, because Covid meant that there were no games. Then when we came back in 2021 I was injured for four months.

“After Christmas, I started playing more games and then that’s when I broke into the senior team.

“Seeing other players before me doing it persuaded me I could try it as well and try to progress like Jude has done right now or Jadon did.”

Now he is the only Englishman left at Dortmund after Bellingham’s initial £88.5million move to Real Madrid this summer.

Thankfully the new England Under-21 international can ask for a little more than shampoo – along with a cheeky offer of giving lessons to Bayern Munich new boy Harry Kane while at St George’s Park – although he misses his friends.

“Jude would take me out into Dortmund sometimes. Or when Jadon was there, we would go to get a haircut together or something or go to his house for three or four hours, maybe play FIFA,” said the Under-19 European champion, who remains close with team-mate Gio Reyna.

“They took me in as their little brother…I’d beat Jude at FIFA all the time.

“It’s great to see him do it. I knew he was going to be like this. It wasn’t a surprise to me. How he prepares for games, how he prepares for training. He’s just so professional. He’s a great person too.”

In May, on his final appearance, Bellingham sat devasted on the Signal Iduna Park pitch after a 2-2 draw with Mainz on the final day of last season handed Bayern the title.

Going into the game top, Dortmund were expected to end their 11-year Bundesliga drought, capping Bellingham’s three starring years in Germany.

Yet, it was to end in heartbreak as injured Bynoe-Gittens watched from the sidelines as the title slipped away.

“It was very hard,” he said, having made 20 appearances, scoring three times. “I couldn’t play in the last two games because of injury and watching it was just really sad, we had worked so hard to get there.

“There are are almost no words to describe it. We had no emotion, just numb.

“We’re always focused on winning or pushing for the title, like last season. We have to start quick, now, and hopefully be clear.

“We want to win the Bundesliga. Dortmund is a big club. You can’t just go for second, third or fourth. We want to push for first, the DFB Cup too and then go far in the Champions League.”

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Dortmund, the 1997 winners, have not got past the quarter-finals since losing the final to Bayern in 2013 but European success is always an objective.

Edin Terzic’s side open their Champions League campaign at PSG on Tuesday and also face AC Milan and Newcastle, travelling to St James’ Park in December.

The luck of the draw allows Bynoe-Gittens, who came through at Reading before moving to Chelsea and then Manchester, to return to England outside international duty. Quiet but confident, he is ready to show what he has learnt.

“It was always my dream to play in the Champions League as a kid, watching it on TV. Playing in it was a big achievement for me,” he said.

“It gives me added fuel to play in England and to show everybody what I can do.”

Jude Bellingham has made a flying start to his Real Madrid career but that comes as no surprise to Gus Poyet due to the midfielder's mentality.

Carlo Ancelotti's side saw off competition from Liverpool and a host of other European clubs to sign Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund ahead of the 2023-24 season.

The England international has soon settled into life in Spain, scoring three goals in his first two LaLiga games after Saturday's brace against Almeria.

Poyet, like many other coaches and former players, pinpointed Bellingham's mentality and told Stats Perform the former Birmingham City man was always going to go to the top.

Poyet said: "I knew Bellingham because I had an interview with Birmingham four or five years ago, before he went to Dortmund, and I watched the team obviously.

"I watched him play and I was thinking 'wow' at the potential he had at 17 or 18 years old.

"So you see the player, but then you need to meet the person, the personality, the passion, how can he handle the pressure, what he likes and what he doesn't. And I think that is what people are seeing now at Real Madrid. 

"We knew that he had the quality, we knew that he made a big impact at Borussia Dortmund, especially when you saw him at Dortmund sometimes being the captain. You think that he must be special because of this.

"The quality, everyone can see, but I think the most important quality of Bellingham is his mentality.

"He is very strong, he believes in himself, he knows what he wants. He made decisions early in his life, leaving England his comfort zone to go to Germany at that age and now, boom, he is at Real Madrid."

Bellingham, aged 20 years and 51 days, is the second-youngest player to score in his opening two LaLiga games – only behind Markel Susaeta in 2007 (who was 19 years and 275 days old).

Poyet does not foresee Bellingham slowing down any time soon either, as Madrid eye a fruitful period with one of the world's most exciting talents in their ranks.

"I think he's going to be at Real Madrid for a long, long time," Poyet added. "He is going to be very good for the club and for himself."

The 20-year-old also had an assist against Almeria. He is just the third player to be involved in four goals in his first two LaLiga outings in the 21st century, along with Wesley Sneijder (2007) and Mounir El Hamdaoui (2013).

Manchester United’s US tour ended with a disappointing 3-2 friendly defeat against Borussia Dortmund in Las Vegas.

Having beaten Arsenal before their youngsters lost to Wrexham and first team fell to Real Madrid, the Red Devils stumbled to another defeat as their Stateside trip came to a close.

Diogo Dalot’s superb curling effort gave United a deserved lead at the stunning Allegiant Stadium, only for Donyell Malen to grab a brace during two minutes of madness just before half-time.

Antony drew United level before Harry Maguire – booed at the start by some and admonished by Andre Onana for a second-half error – saw a header come back off his own bar.

The helter-skelter theme continued throughout as both sides made sweeping alterations, Youssoufa Moukoko eventually giving Dortmund the win after cutting out an Aaron Wan-Bissaka pass.

Erik ten Hag made 11 changes from Wednesday’s loss to Madrid with Scott McTominay handed the armband ahead of recently deposed skipper Maguire.

There were some jeers for the 30-year-old when his name was read out, just as there was when he put an early diagonal ball out of play.

Omari Forson, the least experienced starter in Nevada, forced Gregor Kobel into a low save after reading a lax Dortmund pass.

United were in control for the most part and went ahead in stunning fashion midway through the first half, with Dalot’s brilliant 22-yard curler finding the top right corner.

Eyebrows were raised in the 37th minute when Forson was hooked by ten Hag. The 19-year-old had been booked for a heated exchange with Karim Adeyemi just before and the United boss spent 30 seconds explaining his decision on the touchline.

Things were looking comfortable for United, only for Dortmund to turn the match on its head just before the break.

Brandon Williams slipped as Adeyemi raced down the right with United failing to clear as the ball popped up for Malen to slam home from six yards.

Dortmund had their second just 18 seconds after play restarted.

Their high press ended with Tom Heaton playing out to Victor Lindelof, whose ball was cut out by Marcel Sabitzer and the former United loanee quickly fed Malen to score again.

Williams had heated words with a team-mate after playing the Dortmund forward onside and half-time introduction Andre Onana was the next to bellow at a colleague.

The new signing raced over to admonish Maguire after his mistake had led to a Sebastian Haller shot on goal and Adeyemi striking just wide.

United survived that moment and drew level in the 52nd minute. Mats Hummels’ poor clearance was cut out by Donny van de Beek and Antony met the ball with a low shot home.

Maguire inadvertently directed a header off his own crossbar when trying to clear a corner and Dortmund went back ahead in the 71st minute when they picked off a pass by Wan-Bissaka and broke, with Marco Reus’ ball to the far post turned in by Moukoko.

Antony somehow shot across the face of goal after Marcus Rashford was denied with Joe Hugill also seeing an attempt saved.

Borussia Dortmund have signed Austria midfielder Marcel Sabitzer from Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich.

The 29-year-old, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Manchester United, has put pen to paper on a four-year deal after ending his two-year stay in Bavaria.

Former RB Leipzig star Sabitzer told Dortmund’s website: “I can’t wait to finally join the team and wear the BVB jersey. The discussions with Borussia Dortmund’s managers were excellent and showed me how ambitious the club wants to be in the coming years.

“I would like to do my part to ensure that BVB achieves its goals and that it has every reason to celebrate something special with its fans again as soon as possible.”

Sabitzer joins a club who lost the league title to Bayern on goal difference last season after being held to a 2-2 home draw by Mainz on the final day of the campaign.

Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl, who along with Sabitzer will join up with the rest of the squad in the United States on Tuesday, said: “Marcel is an experienced player who has been playing at the top international level for years.

“We are convinced that his personality will also become an important pillar of the team and that he will help us to become even more effective in hard-fought games.”

Jude Bellingham hailed the “proudest day” of his life as he spoke for the first time as a Real Madrid player.

Real announced the signing of the 19-year-old England international on Wednesday and he was unveiled in the Spanish capital on Thursday afternoon after signing a six-year deal.

The LaLiga giants paid an initial 103million euros (£88.5m) to land Bellingham, who moved to Germany from boyhood club Birmingham in 2020.

He had been linked with a return to England with the likes of Manchester City or Liverpool but ultimately decided to join the record 14-time European Cup winners.

With his parents watching on, Bellingham said: “Thank you for everyone for joining me on the proudest day of my life.

“The day where I joined the greatest football club in the history of the game. There are a lot of people to thank for getting me to this point – Borussia Dortmund and Birmingham City, the people that worked there.

“Also the bosses here (at Real Madrid); Mr President (Florentino Perez), Juni Calafat (scout), Jose Angel (chief executive).

“Of course, most importantly, my family for all of the support and making the deal as easy as possible, so thank you very much and finally, Hala Madrid.”

Bellingham was recently named Bundesliga player of the season after his starring role for Dortmund, who missed out on the title in agonising fashion on the final day of the campaign.

Upon his move to Dortmund, Birmingham made the unexpected step to retire his number 22 jersey at St Andrews.

Bellingham went on to score 24 goals in 132 appearances in Germany, winning the DFB Pokal in 2021.

He scored his first England goal in their World Cup win over Iran but is absent from the squad to face Malta and North Macedonia in the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers due to injury.

Perez, who later presented Bellingham with his new Real Madrid kit – with the midfielder wearing the number five shirt – welcomed the teenager to Madrid.

“He decided to join Real Madrid, the most prestigious team in the world,” Perez said at the unveiling.

“That is why we welcome today – at Real Madrid – Jude Bellingham.

“The day has arrived, the day you always dreamt of, we would like to thank you because you gave everything you have to be here.

“Thank you for your ambition – this is the most loved club and from today you will get all the values that represent Real Madrid.

“I’m sure you fell in love by watching how Real Madrid got five Champions Leagues in the last nine years, some unforgettable moments…Jude, Santiango Bernabeu is waiting for you.

“You will feel the history of this club, all the Madristas gather around this feeling that we will always help you out and do absolutely everything to win every single title.”

Bellingham is certainly ready to start challenging for major honours in Spain. He has long dreamt of a move to the 14-time European champions and recently told the PA news agency that he sees the Champions League as “the biggest stage”.

“The goal has always been winning,” he said.

“When you ask me what my biggest ambitions are in the game, it’s to win everything. And I’m not afraid to say that.

“You know, everyone should have that goal, I feel like, as professional footballers.”

Wales midfielder Jordan James says he knew his former Birmingham colleague Jude Bellingham was destined for stardom “from an early age”.

England international Bellingham joined Real Madrid from Borussia Dortmund on a six-year deal on Wednesday, with the Spanish giants paying an initial 103million euros (£88.5m) for the 19-year-old.

James is a year younger than Bellingham but the pair were often team-mates in making their way through the various age groups at St Andrew’s.

Asked if he thought Bellingham would reach the top, James said: “You knew from an early age. He was a level above everyone else.

“He was the main guy and it was the same at the World Cup, he was the best player for me.

“When I joined at eight years old, I used to go up and play with him, and you could see the way he dribbles and how technically gifted he was.

“He wasn’t a big grower like me either. It was just before he turned 15 that he had his growth spurt, and now he’s turned into a man. That’s what helped him a lot.

“We’ve got different attributes, it’s hard to compare myself to someone who’s at the top already and that’s where I’m trying to get to.

“But we’ve been brought up the same way, in the same club, with the same philosophies, so hopefully I can reach that height.”

Bellingham became Birmingham’s youngest ever first-team player in July 2019 at the age of 16 years and 38 days.

James was not too far behind making his Birmingham debut at the age of 17 years and 142 days and he has already made more than 50 senior appearances.

He was born in Hereford and twice represented England Under-20s before choosing to play for the land of his father, the former Newport defender Tony.

“The opportunity was there with England and I wanted to try something new,” said James, who travelled and trained with the Wales squad at the World Cup in Qatar.

“It was nothing against Wales, I love the country to bits. The opportunity came, but I knew straight away when I stepped foot on the pitch for England it didn’t feel the same.

“My dad is Welsh through and through, he’s put it into me. When I put that Wales shirt on, something special happens.”

It certainly did in March as James had only been on the pitch a few seconds in making his Wales debut when Nathan Broadhead scored a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser to deliver a 1-1 draw in Croatia.

Wales followed up that Euro 2024 qualifying bonus point by beating Latvia, and now aim to build on that promising start against Armenia and Turkey.

“The gaffer (Rob Page) has put a lot of trust in me, otherwise I wouldn’t be on the pitch in such a big game,” said James, reflecting on the Croatia draw.

“He’s really good with the young players. There’s a few of us like Luke Harris, Joe Low, Ollie Cooper, so that’s the next batch that will hopefully come through and be a part of it all.

“It’s more demanding in the seniors, there’s more eyes on you, but that’s what I’m here for.

“It’s where I wanted to get to and I’m trying to live up to it as much as possible.”

Jude Bellingham has joined a select group of British players in signing for Real Madrid.

The 19-year-old England international has agreed a six-year deal to move to the Bernabeu from Borussia Dortmund.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the male players from these shores to have played for the Spanish giants.

Laurie Cunningham

England international Cunningham was the trailblazer for those that followed him after becoming the first Englishman to play for Real Madrid after signing from West Brom in 1979. The left winger brought plenty of excitement to the fans and after scoring on his debut, went on to win the league and cup double in his first season. His time at the Bernabeu was hampered by injuries and he left to join Marseille in 1984, having scored 20 goals in 66 appearances. He was sadly killed six years later in a car crash, aged just 33, while playing for Raya Vallecano.

Steve McManaman (1999-2003)


Twenty years after Cunningham, Steve McManaman followed as he joined from Liverpool. The floppy-haired winger played in one of the great Madrid teams alongside the likes of Raul, Ronaldo, Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane, winning two LaLiga titles and two Champions League titles, scoring in the 2000 final against Valencia. He made over 150 appearances and moved to Manchester City in 2003, where he spent two years before retiring in 2005.

David Beckham (2003-2007)


Already a global superstar, David Beckham’s footballing image went to the next level when he signed for Madrid in 2003. Although his time in the Spanish capital was not the silverware haul he enjoyed at Manchester United, winning just one league title, he was a fan favourite. He made 155 appearances, scored 20 goals and notched 59 assists before moving to the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007.

Michael Owen (2005-2006)


Real Madrid have completed the signing of England midfielder Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund on a six-year deal.

Dortmund confirmed in a statement last week that Real have agreed to pay an initial 103million euros (£88.5m) to land Bellingham, who moved to Germany from boyhood club Birmingham in 2020.

Now both clubs have announced the deal for the 19-year-old has been finalised, with Real adding that he will be unveiled in the Spanish capital on Thursday.

“Real Madrid CF and Borussia Dortmund have agreed on the transfer of the player Jude Bellingham, who will remain linked to our club for the next six seasons,” a Real statement read.

“Tomorrow, Thursday, June 15, at 12:00 noon at Real Madrid City, the presentation ceremony for Jude Bellingham as a new Real Madrid player will take place.

“After, Jude Bellingham will appear before the media.”

Bellingham was recently named Bundesliga player of the season after his starring role for Dortmund, who missed out on the title in agonising fashion on the final day of the campaign.

He scored his first England goal in their World Cup win over Iran but is absent from the squad to face Malta and North Macedonia in the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers due to injury.

He has long dreamt of a move to the 14-time European champions and recently told the PA news agency that he sees the Champions League as “the biggest stage”.

“The goal has always been winning,” he told PA last month.

“When you ask me what my biggest ambitions are in the game, it’s to win everything. And I’m not afraid to say that.

“You know, everyone should have that goal, I feel like, as professional footballers.”

Jude Bellingham is closing in on a move to Real Madrid after the Spanish side struck a deal with Borussia Dortmund worth an initial £88.5million.

The 19-year-old moved to Germany from boyhood club Birmingham in 2020 and has long dreamt of moving to the LaLiga giants.

England star Bellingham is now on the cusp of completing his move to Madrid.

Dortmund confirmed in a statement that the Spanish side have agreed to pay 103m euros (£88.5m), with an additional amount of around 30 per cent of that fixed fee agreed.

If those add-ons are achieved, the deal could reach 133.9m euros (£115m).

Jude Bellingham hopes to help inspire the next generation of footballers to take up a sport that the teenage sensation surprisingly admits he did not like growing up.

The 19-year-old is one of the greatest talents in the world and was this week crowned Bundesliga player of the season after going agonisingly close to winning the title with Borussia Dortmund.

Bellingham has established himself as a key figure for country as well as club, shining in England’s run to the World Cup quarter-finals in Qatar during the winter.

But if it had not been for a light-bulb moment as a kid, things could have been so very different.

Despite regularly going to watch his father, Mark, score goals aplenty for non-league clubs around the Midlands, football initially sparked indifference rather than excitement in Bellingham.

“I just wasn’t really having it,” the England midfielder told the PA news agency.

“My dad would take me to his non-league games and over time it kind of clicked but it did take a while.

“I think it was frustrating for him for a while, but when it did I was addicted and I still am, thankfully.”

Bellingham cannot pinpoint the exact moment of football enlightenment but says his time at boyhood club Birmingham made him “fall in love with it”.

He fondly remembers the “wide-eyed happiness” he felt going to training at Blues – the same kind of joy he is now looking to bring to others.

Bellingham has joined McDonald’s Fun Football as an ambassador – a programme that provides free, inclusive football coaching for children aged five to 11 across more than 1,500 locations in the UK.

Speaking after his first taste of Fun Football, he said: “It was a pleasure for me to come here and play with the kids and have a kickabout with them and see what it’s all about.

“It’s obviously my first time experiencing the things that McDonald’s are doing and how they want to ensure everyone has the opportunity to get into football.

“For me, it’s so important because the game is showing that it’s becoming more inclusive.

“You know, what the (England) women did last year (winning the Euros) kind of put women’s football on the map essentially, and you had such a great mix of boys and girls today from whatever backgrounds.

“They all just come and have a great time and they’re playing. When they’re having fun and laughing, that puts a smile on my face and is exactly what it is all about.”

Bellingham feels “a lot of pride” knowing he can “make an impact on the next generation” and spent time signing autographs and posing for photos long after the session.


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Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney were the kind of players he idolised growing up and the teenager finds it surreal to now be the subject of similar adulation.

“Days like today are really humbling, to be honest,” Bellingham said. “You come in and there’s people with your shirt on and they know who you are straightaway, and they can’t wait to play football with you.

“I think, for me, it’s a feeling that’s priceless to be honest. You do what you do on the pitch and you hope that people enjoy watching it but their love for you is so genuine, it’s so pure.

“They really enjoy being around you, not because they want something because it’s just a fun day for them. I wanted to repay that and make sure that they had as much fun as possible but, yeah, it’s all come very fast.

“It still feels a bit surreal but I’m trying to enjoy it one day at a time.”

:: Jude Bellingham was speaking at a McDonald’s Fun Football session to announce his role as an ambassador for the UK’s largest grassroots participation programme for 5-11 year-olds. Find your nearest free session at www.mcdonalds.co.uk/football.

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