Men's Team

Jesus: I don’t feel pressure, I’m living the dream

Jesus: I don’t feel pressure, I’m living the dream
It’s been an incredible couple of years for Gabriel Jesus.

He won the Brazilian league title with Palmeiras in 2016, their first in 22 years, with his performances enough to earn him the Player of the Year award in the Brasileiro.

And he managed to catch the eye of Brazil coach Tite, who handed him the sacred No. 9 shirt and a place leading the line during World Cup qualification.

Jesus was a revelation for Seleção, scoring seven goals as they topped the CONMEBOL group and qualified for Russia 2018 with games to spare.

His arrival at City in January 2017 caused huge excitement as one of the world’s top young talents started his Premier League journey. He has since gone on to score 23 in 50 matches for the Blues - and has been directly involved in 24 goals in 25 Premier League starts (18 goals, 6 assists).

With a Premier League title and League Cup already in the bag, few could argue his move to City has been anything other than a huge success.

For many, playing for a Club with City’s ambitions – and for a manager as demanding as Pep Guardiola – the pressure would be difficult to handle, but Jesus says he is driven by a love for the game.

“For me, everything is an opportunity and I don’t see it as pressure,” he says. “I am living my dream. It isn’t a pressure at all.

“There are other professions that can be seen and felt that way, like the workers that must wake up at 6am to go to work, to raise five or even one child, to earn the minimum wage. That’s pressure. 

“For us, yes, we must win due to the investment and goals and the goals the club has, but that isn’t pressure, it’s a pleasure to play and we do it for love.

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“That’s why I am doing it, for love. I play with passion with a winning mentality, so that’s a personal achievement and a dream.

“It’s amazing when you’re able to live your dream.”

It was a bold move for Jesus, then 19, to swap the familiarity of the Brazilian top flight for a new adventure in England.

A metatarsal fracture in only his fourth game for the Club saw him miss 13 matches of his debut season, and a knee injury suffered in January saw him miss 10 games of this campaign. 

But his goalscoring quality has seen him transition superbly, despite those setbacks. Operating in various roles but most often as an out-and-out central striker, he’s had little trouble transferring his instincts in front of goal to a more challenging environment.

The presence of other Portuguese-speaking players has helped but it’s Jesus’ professionalism and focus that have been key to his success – and he says he’s delighted with his progress.

“It does help [having fellow Portuguese-speaking players]," he says. "But we do interact a lot with the other players, we play, joke and laugh with each other, but the language makes you closer to the Brazilians and Portuguese.

“It’s fun, we are always joking. It’s happiness every day.

“I am happy because in my first year, unfortunately, I had injuries, but I still did well and have a desire a lot more. I want to do a full season, then I know I am getting better.

“It’s very though when you arrive, you start playing and then you get injured. The following season, the same, you start playing, playing and then you get injured, you can’t play for a while.

“It’s kind of annoying, but I am happy, not only for these numbers but also for the trophies we’ve won.”

It's not only a new style of football Jesus has to to adapt to since his arrival in England.

The differences between Jardim Peri, the neighbourhood in the north of São Paulo where Jesus lived until his departure from Palmeiras, and Manchester are stark, not least the food and the weather.

For a young person to make such a drastic lifestyle change isn't easy but Jesus has thrown himself into his new life and could be seen visiting various city centre attractions during his first few months in Manchester. 

So, is he different to the person who left Brazil?

“Very, very different,” he says.

“When I left Brazil, I was still a boy and today I am a man. My mentality has changed, my communications skills have improved."

“I’ve been always someone that treats everyone well, the same way they treat me, and I’ll always be that way, but I’ve also improved in that sense.

"I give more attention to my family, that is something that I’ve became better at.

“Like I said, I’ve became a man!”

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