Italy international Jorginho admits he feels ‘underappreciated’ at Chelsea, reveals when he almost quit football at Verona and why Thomas Tuchel ‘understands my characteristics.’
He has been at Stamford Bridge for three years now, yet continues to be lambasted by a section of the local fans.
“I received a lot of criticism and I can accept that. Everybody has an opinion and I don’t always agree but I can respect it,” he told the Daily Mail.
“It motivates me to work harder and do better and keep proving they are wrong. Sometimes I do feel unappreciated but I don’t get disappointed. This is a great moment for me — a great moment for the team — but we can’t get too comfortable. We must be humble and keep pushing.”
Things seem to be improving for Jorginho after the arrival of Tuchel at Chelsea after Frank Lampard had replaced his mentor Maurizio Sarri.
“He understood my characteristics. The way to play with short passes when we need short passes and long balls when we need long balls.”
Jorginho spoke of being inspired by his mother, Maria Tereza Freitas, who was a successful amateur football player.
“My dad is always angry when I say this in interviews. Normally, you inherit this sort of thing from your dad but my dad was bad at football, he played as a goalkeeper, no good on the pitch. My mum was the talented one but my dad helped me in other ways.
“He prepared me mentally and talked a lot about a career in football, told me what to expect and how hard it would be.”
Jorginho went to Italy at the age of 15 for a place in the Hellas Verona youth academy, where he and his teammates were nestled in an ancient monastery.
“There was a place for the monks and another for the scholars in the academy. Six of us in a little room for one and a half years and we were paid 20 Euros a week.
“The people there treated us in an amazing way, always respectful. They really took care of us and the food was amazing. We had to be in the house by 11 o’clock. I have good memories of my time there.”
Yet Jorginho also felt that he was ready to quit and go home when suddenly realising 20 Euros a week was practically exploitation.
“For me, football was over. I called my mum, crying and saying I wanted to come back and give up football. I said, ‘Mum, you and dad always told me the football life was hard and there would be awful people you can’t trust and I’m a good guy and I don’t want to live in this world.’
“I wanted to be close to my friends because I’d been away for years and felt like I could not trust anyone. But she just said, ‘You’re not coming back. If you do come back you will need to find somewhere else to stay because you’re not coming back to my house.’
‘She said, ‘You’ve been through so much, you lived in that situation, eating the same food for day after day with no hot water (in a Brazilian academy) and now, because of money, you want to give up? No chance. You are training with the first team and you want to give up? I won’t let you.’
“So thanks mum, thanks dad for that because they have played a big part.”