Bellingham expresses his gratitude
Jude Bellingham has spoken of his gratitude for the decade he spent with Blues ahead of the next stage of his footballing journey.
He made a final appearance in Blues colours last night against Derby County ahead of joining German Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.
And it was an emotional evening for the footballing prodigy who has been with Blues since the tender age of seven.
After the match Jude spent considerable time thanking teammates, coaches, club staff, family and friends before sitting alone - still in full kit - in front of the Tilton Road End taking everything in.
"I do love the Club and I struggle to hide how much this Club means to me. I just hope the fans have enjoyed seeing me play," said Blues youngest ever player and goalscorer.
"It will always have a massive place in my heart because it's my club and the club I support, and it's been a privilege."
In such a remarkably short space of time Jude has become an iconic figure at Blues, showing what can be achieved through talent, hard work and dedication.
His caring, humble and engaging off-the-field demeanour has also made him such an impressive role model.
The 22 shirt has become synonymous with Jude, his rise to the first team aged just 16 years and 38 days and these qualities.
And as such the Club have decided it would be fitting to retire this number, to remember one of our own and to inspire others.
Prior to his last game the Club held a private celebration for people close to Jude's development. It was an opportunity for all to come together and to recognise the help and support Jude has had from all at Blues, notably the Academy, and to provide him with another fitting farewell memory.
Throughout the elongated transfer process that eventually made Jude the world's most expensive 17-year-old, he remained focused and totally committed to the Blues cause, which showed the importance of having a supportive family behind him.
"My family have been massive and although they're not from the area they've come to love the Club,” he added.
"They handled everything and they were really adamant that the Club got what they deserved.
"I've been coming here since I was seven, so it was natural I shed a few tears after the game.
"But Dortmund is the best place for me to carry on my development and I am optimistic for the future."