Having one gifted international footballer son would be enough for most families, yet the parents of England and Real Madrid star Jude Bellingham and his younger brother Jobe have managed to cope with two.
Mark and Denise Bellingham find the best way to support their sons is by racking up the air-miles on an endless commute between Jude’s new base in Madrid and Jobe’s home in Sunderland.
Jude, 20, has already become one of the hottest footballing properties on the planet having become a regular in the Real Madrid and England teams, while Jobe, 18 is already a rising star at Sunderland and has played for England at youth level.
For the Bellingham boys, there’s no need for big-shot agents, now the norm in the lucrative top flights of European football.
Instead parents themselves are carefully negotiating each step to the top, while keeping their sons grounded by giving their undivided – or rather divided – attention.
England and Real Madrid star Jude Bellingham’s footballer brother Jobe has shared online a happy birthday message for their mother Denise
Birmingham-born Jude, 20, has scored 17 goals already this season for Real Madrid after his £100million summer move from Germany’s Borussia Dortmund
The proud parents have to overcome the demands of having their sons playing in different countries and juggle the time to ensure both are given equal love and guidance.
The tireless devotion, and travelling the Bellinghams put in on behalf of their sons was illustrated this week.
At the weekend Mrs Bellingham, 55, was by Jude’s side as he strolled through the fashionable shopping streets of Madrid and was mobbed by selfie and autograph hunters.
She waited patiently as her son, tipped to be the next England captain, smiled his way through the crowd, signing as many autographs as he could.
But around 48 hours later Mrs Bellingham had flown 1,000 miles north to celebrate her birthday with her husband and Jobe who posted a photo of her in Newcastle steak restaurant Gaucho holding a lunch menu.
He wrote above: ‘Happy birthday Mom’ and inserted a face emoji with hearts as the eyes, a second heart emoji and one of a gold crown with precious stones.
A source said Jobe had visited the popular spot, which opened at the start of the year in a grade-ll listed building, ‘now and again.’
He said: ‘Gaucho has links with local sports teams like Newcastle United and the Eagles basketball team.
‘The players like to use it because it’s a high-end meal but still pretty healthy.’
Jobe and his brother keep in regular touch and are also able to exchange news through their parents.
One of Jude’s last days back home before travelling to Madrid to complete his £113million signing from Dortmund, was spent with his brother in Tyne and Wear.
The pair went to Romano’s restaurant in the upmarket village of Cleadon, South Tyneside, which has become a regular haunt for the teenager while he settles into the Sunderland side after his switch from Birmingham City in the summer.
The Italian restaurant, run by the local Minchella family, is about a mile from Sunderland’s training ground and locals said Jobe is happy to sign autographs and pose for pictures with other diners on his visits.
The source said: ‘It became a favourite after he visited with Jude.
‘Jobe also likes to socialise in the centre of Durham with his friends.
‘He’s a clean-living young lad and is often just sitting with a coffee in the city centre Starbucks.’
Jude and Jobe attended together a Louis Vutton event in Paris last June
The Bellingham parents do their best not to let fame or their sons’ multi-million pound wages divert their attention from the football.
While Jude was with Dortmund, he was encouraged to take regular German language lessons.
Mr Bellingham, 48, a former police sergeant, personally brokered the deal with Real Madrid for Jude – acting as an intermediary between the Spanish club and Borussia Dortmund.
Meanwhile, Jude has said that his mum, whom he calls his ‘Queen’, is the key to his success.
At his Madrid unveiling he revealed: ‘The role my mum is playing is massive. It is probably the biggest role of anyone, more than my coaches and managers, to be honest.’
His parents have acted as a grounding force for the midfield star while his early career has rocketed off to the heights of world football.
In 2020, Jude signed for Borussia Dortmund for £22.5million following a breakout season with Championship and boyhood side Birmingham City.
Already loved so much by the Birmingham club and the wider city, he had his shirt number 22 retired despite just playing 44 games for the club in a fledgling career.
But Birmingham’s love and admiration for him is understandable after standing out as one of England’s best players in last year’s World Cup.
Remarkably a bridge in Birmingham is even set to be named after the young star.
But when others could have had their heads turned by the plaudits and glory, Jude has kept focus, thanks to his parents.
Mrs Bellingham, who works in human resources, and his father – a former non-league footballer himself – were sure to keep their son grounded.
In 2020, when she moved with Jude to Germany, Mrs Bellingham left behind her husband who stayed with Jobe.
Both Jude and his mum still live in a flat together in the exclusive La Finca neighbourhood in the west of Madrid where properties fetch about £11million = and where she helps make his bed and sometimes drives him to training.
She also manages her son’s financial affairs, allowing him to focus on football and not become distracted by the prestige and greed that can derail the careers of many young footballers.
Jude has scored 17 times for Real Madrid this season since his £113million move from German club Borussia Dortmund, having previously played for Birmingham City
Jude says of her: ‘My mum is there to just keep everything neutral really.
‘Without my mum, sometimes I’d get too low with the lows or too high with the highs and I stay pretty humble because I’ve got her around.
‘It’s also great to have her there because she’s a great laugh as well. We get on so well and we’re always doing stuff together.’
Although Jude admitted he later grew to idolise the likes of Wayne Rooney, it was his dad’s action on the pitch that made him his first footballing hero.
He scored more than 700 goals in about 900 appearances, making him something of an English non-league Pelé.
He juggled stints at clubs including Leamington, Stourbridge and Sutton Coldfield Town with his day job with West Midlands Police.
Mark hung up his boots at the age of 41 in 2017 and is now believed to have retired from the police. He declines to discuss his sons’ achievements.
He is a Southend United supporter and Jude’s first football matches as a boy were with his father to see the Essex team.
Jude told The Guardian in 2020 how his mother took him to watch his father play.
He said then: ‘It’s where I started to get that love for football – I think you can see in the way I play that I’ve watched the game from a young age.
‘That non-league style of toughness and being gritty when you need to be, I do think that comes from watching my dad play – even though he never tackled!’
Speaking about his father to the FA in an interview, Bellingham also said: ‘We talk about footballing heroes, and my dad was like my first.
‘When you go and watch him play every week in non-league, you know it’s not the Premier League or anything, but seeing the way that he played and the atmosphere, it made me fall in love with football so he was probably my first hero.
‘After the first few times of going, I’d start to pay a bit more attention to the games and stuff, the atmosphere and he’s scoring goals so you see him celebrating and stuff like that – you want that to be me.
‘Growing up, he’d always give me tips on what I could do and now it gets to a certain age and it sort of flips and that’s brilliant because we have that sort of relationship like father and son and then as I got older, like coach and player.’
Jobe, who has made 21 appearances in the Championship this season, scoring four goals, may soon be able to offer his parents and brother the best present possible.
He has been widely touted as the new star signing for Real Madrid to join his brother in their line-up.
It would mean an end to the family separation and the chance for the Bellinghams to live as one united family again.