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Published 30 October 2023 5 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Jude Bellingham named world's best under-21 player after winning Kopa Trophy

Written by:

Frank Smith

Mary Earps also makes history at the Ballon d'Or awards and there is recognition for six other England internationals

Jude Bellingham has been named the best under-21 player in world football at the Ballon d'Or award ceremony – on the same night two Lionesses finished in the top ten for the Ballon d'Or Féminin

Bellingham received the Kopa Trophy during the prestigious awards ceremony presented by France Football magazine on Monday based on his performances during the 2022-23 season.

As well as claiming the under-21 crown, the 20-year-old finished 18th in the senior men’s Ballon d'Or based on his performances for Borussia Dortmund, with his 13 goals in 13 games for Real Madrid falling outside of the time frame.

England captain Harry Kane finished one place behind in 19th, with Bukayo Saka in 24th, as Lionel Messi took home his eighth Ballon d'Or, which is three more than the next-highest record holder, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Second place went to Manchester City’s Erling Haaland, with Kylian Mbappe third.

There was also recognition for Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale as he took eighth place in the men’s goalkeeping award, the Yachine Trophy, which was won by Argentina and Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez.

There is not a women’s goalkeeper’s award as part of the Ballon D’Or but England’s Mary Earps still made history by becoming the highest-placed goalkeeper of all time by finishing fifth in the Ballon d'Or Féminin.

Rachel Daly’s incredible form for Aston Villa helped her to tenth place, whilst her best friend Millie Bright was one behind in 11th and Georgia Stanway was 23rd.

It was Aitana Bonmati who took home the Women's Ballon d'Or, with Sam Kerr and second Barcelona and Spain teenager Salma Paralluelo third.

Bellingham thanked everyone at England and his club sides for helping him become the first Englishman to win the Kopa Trophy, with Jadon Sancho coming second in the award’s first year in 2019 and Bellingham doing the same in 2021.

He said: “I just want to thank everyone who has helped me get to this point – from Birmingham City to Dortmund and now Real Madrid and the national team, and most importantly my family – my mum and dad, who are here tonight, and my brother watching back home.

“Thank you for the support, it means a lot – and more to come.”

The winners of the Kopa Trophy reads: Kylian Mbappe (2018), Matthijs de Ligt (2019), Pedri (2021), Gavi (2022) and now Bellingham.

The Ballon d’Or awards ceremony is one of the highlights of the calendar and the crowd included England legends Gary Lineker and David Beckham, as well as a who’s who of the footballing world.

And within a couple of minutes of being given the award, Bellingham’s attention had already turned to winning trophies with England and Real Madrid.

He said: "It is a great list of players and it is an honour to be in front of some of the best players in the world here and some of the best to have ever played the game.

"To win this trophy means a lot but for me, the important thing is team trophies and now I have got this one, it is important for me is to kick on and help Real Madrid and England win trophies for many years."