The Louis Vuitton bag that symbolises Jorginho’s journey from the Brazilian coast to Euro 2020

After years of being maligned and misunderstood, Jorginho has become a Champions League winner and one of the key members of Italy’s squad for Euro 2020.

To understand how he has reached the pinnacle of the game despite constant criticism, one simply has to look at his journey to the top, and the numerous obstacles he has overcome along the way.

Jorginho grew up in the unfashionable town of Imbituba, Santa Catarina in the south of Brazil, and was inspired by his mother Maria Teresa Freitas to take up football.

She had played the game herself and passed on her talent to her son Jorge Frello Filho, who came to be known as Jorginho.

However, in order to sustain his footballing education, he had to travel 100 miles north to the Guabiruba sports centre, a poorly-equipped facility where he trained and lived with 50 young boys.

They were served the same meal three times a day and the youth-team players only had access to cold showers.

Jorginho wanted to give up several times, but his perseverance eventually paid off. At just 15 years of age, he was signed by Verona.

Life wasn’t much easier for him in Italy, though. He had to live on just €20 (£17/$24) a week, and almost quit the game completely.

However, he discovered that he was being short-changed by his agent at the time, and once his financial problems were resolved, Jorginho really began to flourish.

Under the guidance of his first manager, Andrea Mandorlini, he became a fully-fledged senior professional.

“The first time I saw him, he was a very slender boy,” Mandorlini told Goal . “It seemed he could fly away in the wind.

“However, because of the work he did and the sacrifices he made, he became, firstly, a man, and, secondly, a great player.

“This success was predestined for him. I always believed he would become a top player, he always puts himself at the coach’s disposal in whatever way he is asked to play.”

“I think the criticism of him is unfair,” he continued. “Perhaps he is not a flashy player, but he is of great importance for the team due to the simplicity of the game.

“Jorginho can play with anyone and he is a very intelligent and a humble player who is able to adapt to any system, game or manager.

“When he left Verona for Napoli, I was annoyed because I wanted to keep him. But I gave him a Louis Vuitton suitcase and told him he would need it to travel the world with his football.

“The image of him crashing to the floor after beating Real Madrid in the semi-final is a beautiful one. It was the realisation of a child’s dream.”

Rafael Benitez was in charge when Jorginho joined Napoli in 2014, but his top-flight career only truly took off following the arrival of Maurizio Sarri as coach the following year.

Indeed, the chain-smoking Tuscan tactician transformed Jorginho into one of the best deep-lying playmakers in world football, and it came as no surprise when Sarri brought Jorginho with him to Chelsea following his own move to Stamford Bridge in 2018.

Pep Guardiola had been convinced that Jorginho was bound for Manchester City but, ultimately, Sarri’s influence proved decisive.

At times during the early part of his Blues career, Jorginho had to put up with claims that he was only in the team because his mentor was the manager. He was even nicknamed ‘Sarri’s son’.

However, it is testament to Jorginho’s quality and character that the £57 million ($80m) signing has grown into an even more influential figure at Chelsea since Sarri’s departure for Juventus in 2019, becoming Cesar Azpilicueta’s vice-captain under Frank Lampard.

Billy Gilmour described Jorginho as “a leader” during an interview with Goal, revealing that the 29-year-old is always offering him help and advice on his game. Thankfully, though, it is no longer just Jorginho’s coaches and team-mates that appreciate his many attributes.

Jorginho Chelsea quote GFX

With his game arguably having gone to another level under current Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, it now feels like English football is finally beginning to understand Jorginho’s skillset.

“He is a good continuity player, as we call them, as he can progress the ball at a good level and tempo,” former Blues striker Mark Hughes told Goal. “He has good angles to his passing, which can release players between the lines.

“He understands the game of football. You find that Italian players are often very clever and astute tactically. They know what’s required from different systems and they can execute what the manager wants.

“He is like that because he takes information on and communicates it to his team-mates, which affects the games.”

What will make Jorginho’s family and former coaches most proud, though, is that he remains a humble person. He has made friends wherever he has gone and is adept at breaking down cultural barriers in the dressing room.

Upon learning English at lightning speed upon his arrival in west London, he quickly struck up close relationships with the likes of Mason Mount.

“He is also someone who brings sunshine with him,” former Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot told Goal. “He is always smiling and joking. He is funny. He gives you a hug. He is a genuine person.”

However, despite his success and sunny disposition, he is still not fully satisfied. As far as he is concerned, he has yet to prove himself a better footballer than his mother. “She will always be better than me,” he replied when asked about the biggest influence on his career.

As he himself confirmed, his reaction having helped Chelsea to win the Champions League really was a special moment for him: “Everything crossed my mind about what I have been through to get here in the past.”

Including, no doubt, that Louis Vuitton bag.

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