Liverpool transfer target Jude Bellingham has revealed how he saved a clip of Steven Gerrard praising him to his phone and watched it over and over again.
The 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund star is one of the most in-demand midfielders in Europe, with Jurgen Klopp known to be one of his admirers. But it was an endorsement from Anfield legend Gerrard that truly excited Bellingham.
Speaking to Channel 4 ahead of England's UEFA Nations League match against Italy on Friday evening, Bellingham said: "I did see that. Someone sent it to me. It was a bit surreal, to be honest. Someone sent me the clip on my phone and I saved it straight away and watched it about three or four times, then had to calm myself down. But when one of your heroes says something like that about you it's a good indication of where you're at. I scored six last season and looking back I could've got more."
Bellingham missed a late chance to score an equaliser for the Three Lions as they went down 1-0 to Roberto Mancini's side in Milan on Friday. There has, however, been a clamour of support for Bellingham to be included in Gareth Southgate's starting XI when the team heads to Qatar for the World Cup.
Bellingham said: "I try and avoid the talk really. I just want to play well whenever I'm on the pitch to be honest. Whenever I play for Dortmund I want to win the game and when I play for England I want to show people what I can do. I've gained a lot of experience over the last two or so years, played in a lot of big games and I've been fortunate to be trusted in big moments and I think I've helped and delivered in some of those."
The teenager's leadership qualities for a player so young have been widely applauded and the former Birmingham City prospect believes that is down to being around of other footballers of similar qualities, including Liverpool's current captain Jordan Henderson.
Bellingham said: "I've played with really good leaders, Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson. There's been a few occassions when I've made a mistake with how I've communicated with people and there's been clips that have circulated. That's part of the game for me I'm still young and learning how I need to talk to people to get a certain reaction. But I think the main part of being a leader is leading by example. I want to worry about myself and make I'm OK first. Then I think it puts you in a better position to help lead others.
On being compared as a player to Gerrard and former England star Frank Lampard, he added: "It's an honour really to be put in the same sentence as players like that. Players that I've looked up to."