Jude Bellingham's 'Wolf' England celebration explained – and its debt to The Traitors

Jude Bellingham scored the winner and was named man of the match as England got their Euro 2024 campaign off to a winning start against Serbia.

The Real Madrid player, just over two weeks since winning the Champions League, was excellent on and off the ball — but it was his goal celebration that had people talking.

His pose with Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold quickly caught the attention of England supporters and the wider audience, so what was behind it?  The Athletic reveals all…

What did Bellingham do?

Bellingham and Alexander-Arnold knelt down opposite each other, rested their right elbows on their thighs, and covered their faces with their right hands.

Their England team-mates had turned their backs and were wandering back to their half after celebrating Bellingham’s strike, but the pair remained in what will no doubt become a signature pose.

Jude Bellingham and Trent Alexander-Arnold strike a pose (Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

It is no secret that Alexander-Arnold and Bellingham are good friends. The pair socialise together while on England duty, and were photographed performing a secret handshake during a training session in the build-up to the Serbia game.

Liverpool had previously hoped that their relationship could help convince Bellingham to join them when he decided to leave Borussia Dortmund last summer, only for the midfielder to choose Real Madrid.

And what does it mean?

The pair’s celebration stemmed from Werewolf, a card game that is played inside the England camp.

There are a group of players and staff members, who describe themselves as the ‘Wolf Crew’, that participate, with Bellingham and Alexander-Arnold two of the more active members.

“When we play ‘Wolf’, one of the staff holds his face like that when he doesn’t know what’s going on,” Bellingham told the BBC after England’s 1-0 win. “That was a little joint celebration for the Wolf Crew.”

Later, in a UEFA press conference, he added: “It was more a celebration for the backroom staff who put in so much work every day. They don’t get to have the moments we have on the pitch but we value them so much, and it’s important we keep that atmosphere.”

What is ‘Werewolf’, exactly?

Also known as ‘Wolf’, it is a card game that has been played by England squads at recent tournaments, including the Qatar World Cup in 2022.

In short, Wolf is a role play game and stems from ‘Mafia’, which was created by Dimitry Davidoff, a Russian psychology student, in 1986. A spin-off version forms the basis of the hit television show, The Traitors.

It can be played by between five to 75 players and sets a smaller informed group — the wolves — against the majority of players, known as the villagers, and each group has to try to deceive the other one.

There is a moderator — the player with the most responsibility — whose job it is to protect the identities of both the werewolf and the seer.

Harry Kane, speaking during the Qatar World Cup in 2022, explained: “When they put that wolf card in, you have to start lying and it is not easy, so I think I am a better villager than I am a wolf — there are definitely a few who are better than me at deceiving people.”

Declan Rice, the England and Arsenal midfielder, said “it is about being the best liar”. Arsenal’s squad are also keen players of the game, citing it as one of the key factors behind their team spirit in their fine 2023-24 campaign.

The onus is on the villagers to work out the wolves, with the wolves having to lie and tell everyone why they are not a wolf. “There is a lot of teamwork, ganging up,” Rice said.

If the villagers work out who the wolves are, then the game ends.

Kane, England’s captain, previously noted in Qatar that “there are about 16 or 17 of us who play Wolf and it is a great way to kill some time.”

(Top photo: Ozan Kose/AFP via Getty Images)

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