‘Bellingham goal will go down in England history’

UK

Hardened neutrals let out gasps of astonishment as Bellingham turned away, leaving team-mates in his wake before adopting his trademark arms-outstretched celebratory pose. These are the moments the great players provide and everyone who witnesses them remembers.

Bellingham’s manager and team-mates formed an orderly queue to heap praise on him, their words a mixture of awe, delight and huge relief.

He had pulled them clear of the precipice with one of the finest goals scored by anyone in an England shirt, not just because it was a testament to his technique and natural gifts but because it came when the stakes were so high and the pressure at its height.

Kane put it in the top bracket when he said: “That was one of the best goals in our country’s history. What a player he is. He has kept our tournament alive. He works so hard for the team and in the big moments he steps up.”

Southgate told BBC Radio 5 Live: “With 15 minutes to go you wonder if he is out on his feet, but him and Harry Kane produce those moments and that is why you don’t make changes when people are clamouring for more changes.

“I’ve said for a long time he is doing unbelievably well. I think I understand his world better than a lot of people. His world is incredibly different.

“He’s had an incredible impact even though he is only a young man. He will say things and react to things like a young man will, but can create moments that change big games and that’s what he has done here.”

Declan Rice joined the chorus of praise, adding: “It was a big moment for a 21-year-old. It takes a lot of guts to do something like that. People don’t understand what you have to go through to get over the line.”

Former England defender Gary Neville added on ITV: “He is a special player and that goal has saved England from an incalculable amount of criticism that they have never seen before and he has saved his manager.”

England did not deserve the equaliser. They did not deserve to escape the embarrassment of the criticism that would have been heaped on them. Make no mistake, this was a shocking performance until Bellingham’s goal.

And yet, when you have players like Bellingham who do the special things in the big moments, games are never over until they are over. This was the prime example of what the world class can do.

The last word must go to the man of the moment Bellingham, as he admitted: “It’s got to be up there with my best goals – 30 seconds and we’re out of Euro 2024.

“It’s hard to deny it’s one of the most important moments in my career, but it’s only very important if we go on to win the tournament, so we’ll see in a couple of weeks.”

England have somehow stumbled their way into the quarter-finals in spite of themselves. But, with a player and personality such as Bellingham, capable of pulling off what he did here in Gelsenkirchen, then what has looked impossible so far could still be possible.