How Jorginho’s mum in­flicted a rare de­feat on Guardi­ola

From trans­fer ad­vice to beach train­ing ses­sions, Maria Tereza Fre­itas is a key in­flu­ence on her son

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League - Caio Car­ri­eri

When Jorginho was ag­o­nis­ing over whether to join Chelsea or Manch­ester City in the sum­mer, he did what any self-re­spect­ing in­ter­na­tional foot­baller would do: ask his mum.

“He re­ally wanted to play for Pep Guardi­ola,” re­mem­bers Maria Tereza Fre­itas, speak­ing from her home in Brazil. “But it did not de­pend only on him, but on the clubs as well. He asked me: ‘As a player, Mum, which one would you pick: Chelsea or City?’

I said Chelsea be­cause of the great­ness and stronger tra­di­tion.”

Five months on, and it seems a wise de­ci­sion. Jorginho and his Chelsea team-mates may be peer­ing up at City in the Premier League ta­ble ahead of their visit to Stam­ford Bridge to­day, but he has proved one of the sign­ings of the sum­mer – the mid­field metronome who has kept Chelsea tick­ing, to the ex­tent that even N’golo Kante has had to change po­si­tion to ac­com­mo­date his ar­rival. Wed­nes­day’s trip to Wolves was the first league game in which Jorginho did not fea­ture this sea­son – Chelsea’s 2-1 de­feat might not have been a co­in­ci­dence.

Guardi­ola ul­ti­mately wanted Jorginho to re­place Fer­nand­inho in his City team and this cer­tainly counts as one of the rare oc­ca­sions when City’s man­ager has not got his way in English foot­ball. But it also stands as tes­ta­ment to the in­flu­ence Maria Tereza has over her son that he was pre­pared to let her shape his ca­reer so de­ci­sively.

Then again, she knows what she is talk­ing about. Maria Tereza, now 54, is not only a fine ama­teur foot­baller in her own right, one who still en­joys kick­ing a ball with friends twice a week as a de­fen­sive mid­fielder in Im­bituba, a coastal town in the south­ern Brazil­ian state of Santa Cata­rina, but she was also Jorginho’s first coach. Their im­promptu train­ing ses­sions would in­vari­ably take place on the beach, where she started to de­velop his tech­ni­cal abil­ity by throw­ing the ball at him to hone his first touch. The four-year-old Jorginho would protest, vol­ubly, but would al­ways be met with the same re­sponse: “You can do it, sweet­heart. To play foot­ball you need to learn the fun­da­men­tals, and con­trol­ling the ball is a fun­da­men­tal.”

Maria Tereza can af­ford to laugh about it now. “I did it be­cause I saw that he had a fu­ture,” she says. “Peo­ple asked what I was do­ing with him, and I an­swered that one day they would un­der­stand what I was do­ing.”

Jorginho – now the fa­ther of two chil­dren him­self, af­ter his wife Na­talia gave birth to a daugh­ter hours af­ter the 2-0 win over Ful­ham last Sun­day – ap­pre­ci­ates the sac­ri­fices his mother made to set him on the road to suc­cess.

“I will never for­get this time of my life be­cause it was quite re­ward­ing,” he tells The Daily Tele­graph. “It was vi­tal for my de­vel­op­ment and my ca­reer. It was dif­fer­ent from most of my friends, given that usu­ally it is the fa­ther who is with the kid. But I was happy with that. It was such a plea­sure to share those mo­ments with her.”

All the more so as spare time was in short sup­ply for Maria Tereza. Her hus­band, Jorge, had told her to leave the fam­ily home with the chil­dren when Jorginho was six, so she had to hold down a va­ri­ety of jobs as a sin­gle mother.

It is a fa­mil­iar story in Brazil – six of the start­ing XI who played against Switzer­land in the World Cup were raised solely by their moth­ers – but that did not make life any eas­ier for her, Jorginho or her daugh­ter, Fer­nanda, four years

Early days: Jorginho with Mario Junior, then coach and now di­rec­tor of his first club, Vila Nova Atletico Clube, in Brazil, and (right) ap­plaud­ing the Chelsea fans af­ter last week­end’s win over Ful­ham

Fam­ily first: Jorginho with his mother Maria Tereza and sis­ter Fer­nanda, who is now his ac­coun­tant

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