As far as perfect afternoons go, that one was up there for England supporters.
Fans were back in Wembley Stadium for Euro 2020, the sun was shining, the Three Lions responded with three points, a clean sheet and a goal from a man whose participation many had questioned.
The only thing could have topped off such a 90 minutes was the breaking of a record. And that’s exactly what 17 year and 349-day-year-old Jude Bellingham did, when he strode onto the hallowed turf on 82 minutes.
The teenager became the youngest player to ever feature in the European Championships for any nation, writing his name into the history books, and winning hearts all over the nation. In doing so, he also became the youngest player to play for England at a major competition.
That’s not too surprising, really.
The most surprising thing about that statistic is the fact that the 17-year-old is, when looking at the starlet, trapped in the body of a fully grown man. Bellingham is a strapping lad, rocking a 6’1 frame and wide, powerful shoulders.
His presence in the middle of the park is equal to that of any enforcer on the pitch, and he immediately showed with some early challenges that he’s not just a classy operator, but also enjoys the physical side of the game.
Bellingham had only 12 minutes to prove what he could do on the international stage at a major competition, but rather than try to stand out and make a name for himself, he did the very best thing imaginable – dig in and take a few blows for the team.
The midfielder got stuck into playmaker Luka Modric right from the off, allowing the Ballon d’Or winner no time to work any intelligent passes or bring others into play. If you’ve got to foul them and stem the flow, then foul them.
The Borussia Dortmund star slotted straight in and continued the good work that he had shown during England’s two warm-up friendlies against Austria and Romania, offering some solidity and surprising nous to see out a nervy final ten minutes.
In the end, Raheem Sterling’s goal proved to be enough for Gareth Southgate and his men, who edged out Croatia to clinch a crucial 1-0 victory, and put themselves in the driving seat to qualify from Group D.
Up next, bitter rivals Scotland await their chance to break English hearts, before the Three Lions take on Czech Republic in a game which hopefully will have little significance, on the basis that Southgate’s side may already have qualified for the next round.
Bellingham may find himself thrown further into the action as the group stages progress, where he’ll be able to showcase just what he can offer over an entire 90 minutes, rather than stepping in to become purely a history maker.
Patience is needed, too. Many would have turned their noses up at the inclusion of Kalvin Phillips over Bellingham in the middle of the park, but the Leeds United star’s man of the match performance – including the key assist – demonstrated that Southgate probably knows what he’s doing.
That’s not to say Bellingham isn’t worthy of a starting spot, either. His time will come in an England shirt, and no matter when it does arrive – be it in this tournament or the next – he’ll be ready to make an impact.
Bellingham is destined for the top, and this may not be the only record he’ll break on the international stage. Sit back, relax, and watch this boy grow into a man and superstar.