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A classic Brazilian No.8 made in Italy, Jorginho carries on the family business

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Chelsea midfielder Jorginho reflects on his footballing heritage and discusses his playing style in an interview with Chelsea magazine

Huddersfield Town v Chelsea FC - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

In my home country of Brazil, it is not unusual to see children leave their parents’ home at an early age to pursue dreams of playing professional football. This may be happening in other countries, too, but it’s especially common in Brazil.

For example, Chelsea loanee Kenedy left a small town in Minas Gerais and crossed state-lines to get to Rio de Janeiro — a 6-hour car ride separating the then 13-year-old from his family — just so he could take on the opportunity to play for Fluminense’s famed youth ranks. Years earlier, at the same age, David Luiz packed up and left São Paulo to try his luck at Vitória, located in Salvador, Bahia, about 200km to the north. His family visited him twice in 2.5 years.

In Jorginho’s case, that initial step was even bigger. It reached all the way across the Atlantic Ocean in fact. Armed with an Italian passport thanks to his family roots, he gathered his belongings, stuffed them in his luggage, and made his way to Verona without a professional contract at age 15. There stood 10,000km between him and his family back in Imbatuba, Santa Catarina state.

Living alone (then later with a teammate) with €20 of weekly “salary” in his pocket, somehow it all worked out for him. From afar, he was always supported by his football-loving family, at least in spirit, especially by his mother, who first taught him how to play. She was the main “culprit” behind his passion for the sport and will to succeed in it, and she has quickly become a Chelsea fan favourite as well for her emotional reaction to seeing his son’s shirt at the club store and showcasing her own footwork in a couple older videos.

Sitting down for an interview with Chelsea’s official magazine, Jorginho recently reflected on his upbringing as a child of football and what the game means to him on and off the pitch.

“Football helped me, but football is something that has always been inside me. It’s always been a part of my life – my grandparents played, my brother played as well, and I was basically born playing football.”

“So, in terms of the difficulties I went through as a kid, I always saw football as something that could give me and my family a better life. That’s why I always gave everything.”

In Brazil, we would say that Jorginho plays as if he was wearing a suit instead of a football kit. His one-touch passing, along with great positional sense, vision, and a precisely calibrated foot to point his colleagues towards the goal is reminiscent of the classic Brazilian No.8 (such as Gérson).

However, this type of footballer doesn’t exist in Brazil any more. The closest thing we have to it is Jorginho himself, and his brand of football is all Italian.

“In terms of football I’m a hundred per cent European. The characteristics I have are not associated with Brazilian football. I was born in Brazil, I grew up in Brazil and you can say that is where I grew up as a person, but then I trained and I developed and, speaking football-wise, I learned my game in Italy.”

-Jorginho; source: Chelsea FC

For me, as a Brazilian, it is sad to think that Jorginho will never don the famous yellow of the Seleção. Fortunately, he gets to do so for Chelsea (at least this year, thanks to the yellow away kit)!