Jude Bellingham provided the hero’s reception when he returned to Birmingham to say goodbye to fans two years after his departure

JUDE BELLINGHAM returned to St Andrew’s tonight to a raucous reception.

The England superstar graduated from Birmingham City’s academy before being promoted to the first team aged just 16.

Impressing at the heart of the Blues midfield, he made 44 appearances before joining Borussia Dortmund for £25m.

The sought-after midfielder, 19, has retained his affections for his boyhood club and returns as a hero tonight following his exploits at the Three Lions World Cup.

Bellingham was greeted on the sidelines 15 minutes before Birmingham’s Championship clash with Reading – awed ball boys high-fived before waving and kissing the crowd.

Kitted out in a gray hoodie and warm black jacket, the all-action star, who tipped for the top, received a brilliant welcome from his old supporters, who happily welcomed him home.

He then snapped a photo with the Birmingham mascot before shaking hands with the lucky fans seated in the front row.

Ahead of his performance, he said: “I never had a chance to say goodbye until tonight! I’m back to finally say thank you.”

Such was the impression Bellingham made on the Blues that they decided to retire his number 22 jersey after he left.

The move was roundly mocked at the time, although England fans recently joked that his incredible performances have since validated the decision.

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An affinity for the blues clearly runs in the family, with Bellingham’s younger brother Jobe on the bench for John Eustace’s side that night.

Jobe, 17, has made 15 appearances for Birmingham.

The Blues went into tonight’s game 14th – but just five points behind the playoffs.

Today’s starting XI features Manchester United loanees Hannibal Mejbri and Tahith Chong – as well as SunSport columnist Troy Deeney.

Although happy at Dortmund, Bellingham has been linked with all European heavyweights.

He is expected to have his pick by the end of the season, with Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid all believed to be interested.

Jude Bellingham played 44 times for Birmingham

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Jude Bellingham played 44 times for BirminghamCredit: PA
Jobe Bellingham, 17, is currently in the blues books

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Jobe Bellingham, 17, is currently in the blues booksPhoto credit: Getty

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6933860/jude-bellingham-returns-birmingham-goodbye/ Jude Bellingham provided the hero’s reception when he returned to Birmingham to say goodbye to fans two years after his departure

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