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Euro 2024: Jude Bellingham clarifies controversial gesture after stunning goal keeps England's hopes alive

Jude Bellingham has played down any controversy surrounding his celebration after scoring a remarkable goal for England against Slovakia at Euro 2024.

football Euro 2024: Jude Bellingham clarifies controversial gesture after stunning goal keeps England's hopes alive snt
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First Published Jul 1, 2024, 12:28 PM IST

Jude Bellingham has played down any controversy surrounding his celebration after scoring a remarkable goal for England against Slovakia at Euro 2024. The Real Madrid star netted a crucial last-minute equalizer in Sunday night's last-16 match in Gelsenkirchen, preventing an unexpected early exit for the pre-tournament favorites and forcing extra time.

Bellingham, who was named Man of the Match, executed an impressive bicycle kick past Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka after a long throw-in was flicked on by England defender Marc Guehi, sparking jubilant celebrations at Arena AufSchalke. Captain Harry Kane then completed the dramatic comeback with a decisive header early in extra time.

The 21-year-old faced some initial criticism for seemingly making a rude gesture towards the Slovakian bench during his celebration of this significant moment in his remarkable young career.

However, Bellingham promptly addressed the situation on social media, clarifying that the gesture was not directed at Slovakia but was instead an inside joke with close friends who were present at the game.

“An inside joke gesture towards some close friends who were at the game. Nothing but respect for how that Slovakia team played tonight," he wrote on X after quote-tweeting footage of the celebration in question.

During the celebration, Bellingham raised his arms and shouted, "Who else?" before making a talking gesture with his hand, seemingly addressing the fierce criticism that England has faced throughout the tournament.

Bellingham had also been under scrutiny, especially after his match-winning performance in the Group C opener against Serbia was followed by quieter displays in the lackluster draws with Denmark and Slovenia.

"The adrenaline gets you. It's a combination of a lot of things. Playing for England is an enjoyable feeling but it's also a lot of pressure. You hear people talk a lot of rubbish. It's nice when you can deliver and give them a little bit back," he told reporters after the game.

"It's very difficult when you talk in press conferences and interviews to talk as openly as footballers want to because they're always judged. For me, football, being on the pitch, scoring goals and celebrating is my release. Maybe it was a message to a few people. I was very happy at the end, lots of adrenaline," the Real Madrid star added.

"It's a feeling that is like no other. In international football, in knockout football, it's even a worse feeling, because you're 30 seconds from going home. Having to listen to all the rubbish, feeling like you have let a nation of people down. In one kick of the ball, everything can change," he said.

Bellingham further stated, "You know what I mean by the rubbish. Playing for England should be the most proud moment of your career but often it's quite difficult. There's a really high intense pressure. The fans expect a lot from us regardless of what happened in recent tournaments years and years ago."

"People talk a lot. You do have to take it personally a little bit. We work so hard at this game. We come in every day, we work hard to put on a performance for the fans, sometimes it doesn't go well and sometimes it feels like there's a bit of a pile on, it's not nice to hear. But you can always use it and for moments like that, it's nice to throw it back to some people," he concluded.

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