Jude Bellingham's shirt number at Birmingham was not retired because of the player’s performances, according to one fan's theory.
The 20-year-old dazzled on Tuesday as England beat Scotland 3-1 in a friendly to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first-ever international fixture, which was incidentally between the two sides.
Bellingham played a part in Phil Foden’s opener, before capitalising on an Andrew Robertson error to net England’s second.
Then, in the game’s crowning moment, Bellingham weaved through Scotland’s midfield and faked to shoot before feeding Harry Kane to score.
The friendly encounter was another reminder of Bellingham’s status in the game. The midfielder, who already has 26 caps and is currently Real Madrid’s top scorer, has cemented himself as one of the world’s best players in recent years.
Of course, Birmingham City have heralded the youngster’s talent ever since he made his debut for the club in August 2019 aged 16 years and 38 days.
Such was his status at the Blues, that the club retired his No.22 shirt in recognition of Bellingham’s qualities, in the hope the gesture can inspire the next generation of talent at St Andrew's.
Birmingham City said at the time: "In such a remarkably short space of time Jude has become an iconic figure at Blues, showing what can be achieved through talent, hard work and dedication.”
"His caring, humble and engaging off-the-field demeanour has also made him such an impressive role model. The 22 shirt has become synonymous with Jude, his rise to the first team aged just 16 years and 38 days and these qualities.
"And as such the club have decided it would be fitting to retire this number, to remember one of our own and to inspire others."
However, one fan has claimed that Birmingham retired Bellingham’s shirt for reasons beyond his ability on the pitch. Hubfootballuk alleged that the player’s sale saved Birmingham from potential administration.
Writing on X, formally known as Twitter, the account said: “Jude Bellingham could have left Birmingham City for pennies, as he had not signed a Pro Contract with the club.
“Birmingham, who were in serious financial troubles at the time, HAD to sell Bellingham for a substantial fee, to keep the club above water.
“In essence, Jude Bellingham and his family virtually saved Birmingham City Football Club from Financial Fair Play and potential administration.”
Meanwhile, other fans have suggested that Bellingham’s shirt number was never retired, but merely put on hold in case he were to ever return.