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GOLDEN BOY

Bellingham wins the Golden Boy with new points record

The Real Madrid player received the award in Turin. Other winners at the gala included Linda Caicedo, Aitana Bonmatí and Lamine Yamal.

Update:
The Real Madrid player received the award in Turin. Other winners at the gala included Linda Caicedo, Aitana Bonmatí and Lamine Yamal.
JAVIER SORIANOAFP

Jude Bellingham received the Golden Boy award in Turin this evening Monday - the award that Italian newspaper Tuttosport traditionally assigns to the best Under-21 player in Europe. The Real Madrid player continues LaLiga’s run of awards, following on from Pedri, who won it in 2021 and Gavi last year. Curiously, he also becomes the first Real Madrid player to receive it.

Madrid fans had even more to celebrate as Linda Caicedo picked up the Golden Girl 2023, while Barça’s achievements were also recognised with the Golden Player Woman going to Aitana Bonmatí and Lamine Yamal awarded The Youngest 2023 accolade.

Jude Bellingham: Golden Boy with nearly all of the votes

Bellingham, winner with 485 votes out of 500 (a record), received his award from Massimo Franchi at the end of the two-hour gala. In his acceptance speech, Jude explained how thrilled he is to now be in the company of some of the game’s greats: “I am thoroughly enjoying the honor of joining this prestigious group of footballers - The Golden Boys. I have worked with great players since I started out, in the Birmingham academy, for which I was incredibly lucky. I always felt the responsibility of guiding the team to victory.”

When asked about those who already consider him the best in the world, he responded humbly: “It’s nice to hear it, but I don’t agree, to be honest. Now I am focused on improving game after game.” For Bellingham, joining Real Madrid was the key to his growth: “It is the best club in the world; it has been great luck for me to be able to get there - not everyone gets to do that. Expectations, at a club like Madrid and in a national team like England, are always very high. I’m not going to promise anything, but I can say that I will give my all.”

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Regarding the players who he considers his references, he mentioned a compatriot: “All the winners had great careers later on and many of them inspired me, although Rooney was the one who had the most influence on my childhood. Messi? He is a legend of this game.”

Bellingham, who says that he doesn’t know what he would have done with his life without football (“Maybe go to university, or waste time”), sent a message to those who are only starting out playing the game: “I’m not perfect, but the advice I can give is: ‘Always play with a smile and enjoy football.’”

In another first, the English player coincided in both the vote of the 50 journalists and that of Tuttosport website users. That means he received two awards - the Golden Boy 2023 and the Golden Boy Web: “Thank you to everyone who voted for me. It will be difficult to carry these two prizes through airport controls, but we will do it!” he joked.

Earlier, Tuttosport had recognised other talents who shone at European clubs during 2023, such as Giorgio Scalvini, voted the best Italian player under the age of 21. The Atalanta defender was unable to attend as he was on duty with his team in this evening’s Serie A meeting against Torino.

Brighton & Hove Albion chairman Tony Bloom was the ‘Best European President′ - an award that Florentino Pérez won last year, and the ‘Best Manager’ also went to the Premier League for another year with Arsenal’s Edu Gaspar winning that category. Erling Haaland, who was Golden Boy in 2020, received the ‘Golden Player Man 2023′, but could not attend the gala either due to his commitments with Manchester City, who visit Aston Villa on Wednesday.

Linda Caicedo strikes gold

Real Madrid’s Linda Caicedo also had other commitments which impeded her from collecting the Golden Girl 2023 award but she sent a message: “I would like to thank everyone and congratulate all of the other nominees - especially Bellingham for the season they’ve had. It would have been an honor to be there tonight, but injury prevents me from doing so, and I thank [Real Madrid Director of Institutional Relations] Emilio Butragueño for receiving it on my behalf, I couldn’t be better represented. I thank everyone who believed in me - Real Madrid, without whom all this would not have been possible, the Colombia national team, my family and my partner.”

Butragueño congratulated the player on receiving it on her behalf, and said: “She is extraordinary, she shows it in our club and with Colombia. She is a fundamental footballer for our present and our future, we want to grow as an entity and contribute to the growth of football. “We are proud to have a player of her level.”

Aitana Bonmatí, also absent, sent a video message for her Golden Player Woman 2023: “Thank you for this award. As you know, I cannot be at the gala due to my commitments. I always say that individual awards do not come without a great collective. I was lucky enough to win the Champions League with Barça and the World Cup with the national team, so I owe everything to my teammates, staff and all the workers.”

Elsewhere, Juventus defenderFederico Gatti received the Fair Play award dedicated to the legendary Gaetano Scirea and Roberto De Zerbi the Targa Pozzo for the best coach. After an emotional tribute to Gianluca Vialli, it was time for Ali Barat, Europe’s best agent, who remembered the historic Caicedo operation and dedicated this moment to the late Mino Raiola.

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