Birmingham retire Bellingham shirt number after 44 appearances and four goals

Birmingham City have retired the no.22 shirt in honour of Jude Bellingham after he completed a move to Borussia Dortmund.

The 17-year-old signed for the German outfit in a £22.5million deal on Monday after months of speculation.

Bellingham had joined Birmingham's academy as a seven-year-old, but only made his debut aged 16 last August.

Since then he has gone on to become the star man at St. Andrews, though has only racked up a total of 44 appearances and four goals.

In an update posted on their official website, Birmingham announced they would be retiring the no.22 as a fitting tribute "to remember one of our own and to inspire others."

The midfielder hails from Stourbridge – a 45 minute drive from Birmingham's stadium – and he admitted he was leaving the club with a heavy heart following their final match of the season on Wednesday.

"I do love the Club and I struggle to hide how much this Club means to me," Bellingham said. "I just hope the fans have enjoyed seeing me play.

"It will always have a massive place in my heart because it's my club and the club I support, and it's been a privilege."

Former Liverpool striker Stan Collymore – who also grew up near the area – commented on The Blues' decision to retire Bellingham's number, posting a laughing emoji on Twitter and writing simply: "Levels."

Birmingham hosted a party for Bellingham prior to their season finale fixture against Derby.

He was emotional at the final whistle, but is looking forward to the new challenge ahead.

"I've been coming here since I was seven, so it was natural I shed a few tears after the game," he said.

"But Dortmund is the best place for me to carry on my development and I am optimistic for the future."

Man Utd were also in the running for his signature, but were edged out by Dortmund, who have an impressive track record of nurturing young talent.

Dortmund's sporting director Michael Zorc said: “The primary motivation behind his decision were the prospects on the pitch we were able to offer him.

“He has enormous potential, which we will continue to develop together with him over the coming years.

"He already boasts astonishing quality with and without the ball, and has a strong mentality to boot.

"Jude will immediately strengthen our first team squad, but we will certainly give him all the time he needs to adapt to the higher level of play.”

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