Mike Dodds, former Birmingham academy manager
dmg media (UK)
World Cup 2022
WHEN I talk to Jude now, we rarely talk football. We chat about normal things. And that relationship makes me proud. Because it wasn’t always easy. I witnessed the struggles. When I first met Jude, he was playing at under-sevens. He was very good, but he wasn’t this mercurial, generational talent. He wasn’t the best at his age group, he wasn’t completely in love with the game. But the environment at Birmingham City sparked the enthusiasm in him and, from there, he accelerated really quickly. He always wanted to be challenged. If he wasn’t, he’d let you know. Some might have viewed him as difficult, but I didn’t. I saw a talented young man who was striving for more. There’s a reason why he wears No22. I said to him he could be the complete midfielder. A ball-winning No4, a box-to-box No8 and a creative No10. Add them together and I told him he could be a No22. His eyes lit up.