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Jude Bellingham: Toni Kroos says Real Madrid teammate can handle England pressure – BBC Sport



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Image caption, Toni Kroos and Jude Bellingham won the Champions League final together with Real Madrid on 1 June

Germany midfielder Toni Kroos says his Real Madrid team-mate Jude Bellingham is “the complete package” and can handle the weight of English expectation at Euro 2024.

Kroos played alongside Bellingham, 20, as Real won the Champions League final at Wembley on 1 June and the veteran says the England midfielder carries himself in a way which belies his years.

“I’ve had a year with Jude and had to ask how old he really is. He’s 20 but – and particularly off the field – he feels to be a fair bit more mature than that,” said Kroos, 34.

England are among the pre-tournament favourites and Bellingham trained alongside all 25 of his team-mates at their open training session in Jena on Tuesday.

Bellingham, who became Birmingham City’s youngest ever player in August 2019 at 16 years and 38 days old and made his England debut in November 2020, is expected to play a central role in the Three Lions’ bid for glory in Germany.

“It speaks for him that there is so much hope resting on him in England,” said Kroos. “At Real, in the first few weeks, he was directly decisive for us. I didn’t feel he had any problems as his importance to the team grew.

“He’s a guy who can handle this pressure. This personality at just 20 years of age – it’s no problem for him to withstand the pressure.”

Gareth Southgate’s side begin their campaign against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday.

‘A bit too cheesy but I’ll take it’

Kroos will retire from a glittering career after this summer’s home European Championship, which begins when Germany face Scotland in Munich on Friday.

The 2014 World Cup winner started his senior career at Bayern Munich before moving to Real Madrid and lifted a sixth Champions League title after the Spanish giants beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 earlier this month.

He stepped away from international football after Germany’s last-16 exit to England at Euro 2020, but says he would not have returned to the national team in February if he did not believe the hosts could win the tournament.

“That ending would be a bit too cheesy, with the Champions League and the European Championship, but I’ll take it,” said Kroos.

“It went hand-in-hand with the decision to come back.

“I still want to be successful and I want to win the tournament this summer. That’s quite clear.

“If I didn’t feel this idea – or this fantasy – was possible, then I wouldn’t have come back, because it’s always about winning any competition I play in.”

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