Gabriel Jesus started his career in a City shirt with remarkable success. In just five games, for in the Premier League and one in the FA Cup, he has netted thrice and set up two more. Let’s look at the Brazilian youngster’s past and his road to Sky Blue.
Gabriel Jesus grew up in São Paulo, Brazil, in one of the metropolis’s characteristic impoverished favelas, Jardim Peri.
He learned to play soccer with his friends in the street outside his house—neighbor Ismael de Oliviera comments, laughing, that he “always thought Gabriel was going to become a professional player because he was always so good with the ball. He used to destroy the other boys!”
Curiously, Gabriel Jesus did not always play as a striker—he started as a centre-half in his very early years as an aspiring footballer. But it was quickly recognized that his pace and trickery is best used in an attacking role.
The typical Sunday for Jesus in Jardim Peri, like most other days, consisted mainly of football. He and his friends had to seek transportation from his neighbors in the area, to travel to matches with his local team, União do Peri, which were held on a dirt pitch surrounded by low plastic fencing.
Mother and Coach
Following up on his matches, Jesus used to take all the money he could find and spend it on a candy spree at his local sweets shop. He was such a regular there that he formed a teasing friendship with owner Giselle Xavier.
As a boy and a teenager, Jesus’s mother played a huge role in his development as both a person and a football player. She attended all of his games, providing both moral support and, humorously, even offered her own tactical opinion to her son.
Never one to hold back on her child, she would berate Jesus when he made a mistake on the pitch, like turning over the ball or missing a goal-scoring chance. The most common punishment was a yank on the ear, which is why Jesus celebrated his first home goal in a City shirt by tugging his own ear towards the crowd.
Through the Ranks
At the age of fifteen, Jesus left his local club and joined Palmeiras FC. It was a crucial step for the Brazilian in his rise to prominence.
Despite being much younger than seventeen, he lit up the U17 league with 37 goals in just 22 games. Over the next few years, Jesus began receiving offers from a variety of European clubs for his outstanding performances, but he decided to remain with Palmeiras for the time being.
Jesus has enjoyed tremendous success on the international stage for Brazil. Even though he was snubbed from the Copa América last summer because of visa issues, he played brilliantly in Brazil’s gold-medal effort in the 2016 Olympics, scoring three goals in six matches.
That summer, Jesus agreed to sign for City after finishing his final season with Palmeiras, and join the squad in January.
From his very introduction into the Manchester City first team, Jesus played brilliantly. His pace, awareness, workrate, and positioning shows that he holds all the promise of a top striker.
His progress at the club has been temporarily halted by a broken metatarsal. He is now on the road to recovery, and Pep Guardiola is hopeful of having the youngster at his disposal before the end of the season.
Here’s to many years of goals and skills in Sky Blue for Manchester City and Gabriel Jesus!
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