The young full back discussed how hes adjusted to his big move to Germany
U.S. mens national team defender George Bello admitted he was left “starstruck” when facing Erling Haaland last weekend as the 20-year-old full back adjusts to life in the Bundesliga.
Bello made his first start since moving to Arminia Bielefeld in January as they faced Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion.
Arminia ultimately lost the match 2-0, but Bello says it was fantastic to face off with Haaland as well as USMNT teammate Gio Reyna on a big stage.
The match was Bellos first start, having moved to the Bundesliga from Atlanta United just before the transfer deadline.
Hes appeared in five matches so far, but last weekends match was a different experience as he took on Haaland and Reyna.
“Ive been looking forward to just playing my bros like Gio, Joe [Scally], [Ricardo] Pepi, Chris Richards and all them,” Bello said.
“And then theres always people like Haaland. I saw him that day I was kind of starstruck. Obviously theres Lewandowski and all those kind of guys, those top, top, top guys.
“Im just blessed to be here because Id play with these guys on FIFA and stuff and Im playing against them, so this is crazy. Im really happy.”
Having previously starred as a homegrown player for Atlanta United, Bello has spent the last few months adjusting to life in Germany, on and off the field.
He has already come to enjoy life in Bielefeld, a slower-paced city that he says allows him to relax a bit between games.
But hes still adjusting off the field as he has yet to truly explore German life due to the quick turnarounds between games.
On the field, he says, hes also still adjusting to a league thats much faster than MLS.
“The pace, obviously,” he said. “Football is universal, so I feel like in any league, you still have to be locked in 100% of the game. So its not really like I would say, Oh, yeah, this league is better than this league, but the Bundesliga is a really quick league so you have to think fast, play faster, and you dont have time with some the ball. Thats what Ill say the main differences.”
He continued: “If you want to make that leap, once you get here, dont think that youve made it. I feel like thats very important to know. Just because youre in one of the top leagues, it doesnt mean youve made it at all.
“Thats what I always tell myself, just to keep bettering myself as a player because I know I have a lot of things to still work on and Im not the perfect player.”
Although he was not included on the USMNTs initial roster for upcoming World Cup qualifiers, Bello has begun the process of establishing himself with the national team.
The 20-year-old defender has earned six senior caps and was a member of the team that won the Gold Cup last summer.
He faces competition at left back, though, with Antonee Robinson penciled in as the starter and Sergino Dest providing cover if needed.
And Bello, like everyone else in the player pool, would like to lock down a spot heading towards the World Cup, should the U.S. qualify.
“Its a big year for everyone, especially with the U.S., but I would say my goal is just to keep improving myself and just trying to be consistent here,” he said. “And if I do that, everything will work out the way its going to work out.
“I feel like the most important thing is making sure that Im fit all year, God forbid I get any injury, to stay healthy, and well see where it goes.
“Nothing is given to you. Nothing is handed to you so, no matter what, I have to work hard to get that spot on a World Cup roster, and so is everyone else. Its gonna be fun to see. Its gonna be a fun year and, like I said, everyones excited for it.”