Jorginho – A Year of Lows and All Time Highs
By Jordan Brightman-Charles
2021 has no doubt been a career year for Jorge Luiz Frello Filho, better known as Jorginho.
However, as the year comes to a close, could the Italy star’s momentum finally be reaching a halt, or is there still even more brilliance to come?
January 2021 was a tough time for the midfield star, since the beginning of the 20/21 season, he had found himself out of favour with then Chelsea boss Frank Lampard. The Brazilian-born regista often found himself on the bench for big matches, such as losses to Manchester City and Leicester City. Such key losses would spell the end for Lampard as he would lose his job on January 25th.
By Jordan Brightman-Charles
With Lampard’s sacking came the appointment of German national and former PSG coach Thomas Tuchel, perhaps a lifeline was about to appear for Jorginho…
…And what a lifeline it would be! Jorginho would make his grand return as a regular starter once the reign of Tuchel began. Within 2 mere weeks of the German’s arrival, Jorginho had scored 2 matchwinners for the West London side.
The first being a penalty away to bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur, the second being a penalty in a tense tie away to Sheffield United. What looked to be the start of a terrible year for Jorginho, soon would turn out to be the birth of a new beginning for him.
The next few months would see Chelsea do something unexpected. Not only did Tuchel’s appointment steer the club back towards the top 4 and Champions League qualification, but the German had also transformed the club into serious contenders for that season’s competition.
The West Londoners dismantled eventual Spanish champions Atletico Madrid in the round of 16, followed by a close victory across two legs against reigning Portuguese champions Porto. The first leg saw Jorginho pick up a UEFA Man of the Match award after the Blues picked up a 2-0 win away from home.
The Blues would then face Real Madrid in the semi-final. What would have been a daunting draw mere months before, was now a meeting of two equals. This would be where Chelsea would make their statement on the competition. Up against the most successful club in Champions League history, Chelsea ran away with the tie, gaining a convincing 3-1 victory across the two legs. Jorginho would play a vital role in these matches, he assisted midfield partner N’Golo Kante in neutralising Madrid’s midfield, which contained veterans such as Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro.
As fate would have it, fellow English club Manchester City would beat Paris Saint-Germain in the other semi-final, setting up an all-English final. Alongside this being a chance for Jorginho and his fellow Blues to etch themselves into football history, this was a chance at redemption for Chelsea’s number 5.
Despite his reputation as a clinical penalty taker, Jorginho saw Ederson save his attempt during the 2019 Carabao Cup Final penalty shootout. Subsequently, City would win following another miss by David Luiz.
May 29th 2021, the European journey was completed. Chelsea beat Manchester City 1-0 at the Estadio Dragao in Porto, the European Cup was finally returning to Stamford Bridge after 9 years. Despite not winning the man of the match, Jorginho’s exploits were praised by many of the Chelsea faithful and pundits alike.
This was a fantastic end to what had originally been a chaotic season for Jorginho. However, the midfielder’s story does not end here.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Euro 2020 was subsequently delayed until summer 2021. Jorginho had the chance to conquer Europe in both club and international football.
The Euros signified once again that this was the year of Jorginho. The midfield maestro excelled throughout the competition, playing every single minute of what would turn out to be a victorious campaign for the Azzurri.
Exemplifying that this was his time to shine, Jorginho would make his mark during the semi-final versus Spain. He held his own against midfield veteran Sergio Busquets, something that people questioned whether he would be able to do. Furthermore, it was Jorginho’s infamous ‘hop-skip-kick’ penalty that would vanquish his Spanish foes during the penalty shootout.
Although Jorginho played exceptionally against England during the final itself, cracks were starting to show. Once again, he would find himself taking the decisive penalty in the shootout. However, he would see his attempt saved by Jordan Pickford. Despite the miss, Jorginho’s blushes would be spared as Bukayo Saka then saw his attempt saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, crowning Italy as the new Champions of Europe. On one hand, Jorginho had conquered Europe in both club and international football. On the other, he’d nearly let himself and his team down.
The start of the 21/22 season for Chelsea would be yet another baptism of fire, the UEFA Super Cup Final against Villarreal would be decided via… a penalty shootout! This time, Jorginho would succeed in his attempt, upon which he shushed the Villarreal crowd (and perhaps his critics too).
The end of the year would bring mixed feelings for Jorginho. He became the first ever Chelsea player to be crowned UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, a grand honour showing that he was the best player in Europe during 2021. Of course, there were detractors, some suggesting that his midfield partner N’Golo Kante deserved the honour.
Finally, the Italian national team’s momentum would come crashing down. The European champions failed to reach the final of the Nations League, with Spain gaining their vengeance with a victory in the semi-final. Following this, Jorginho would end the international year with a moment of disappointment and misfortune. With automatic World Cup qualification on the line against Switzerland, the midfielder missed a vital penalty during the match’s dying moments. A subsequent draw in Northern Ireland means that Italy will have to enter the playoffs next year for World Cup qualification.
2021 was a year of both lows and highs for Jorginho, but in the grand scheme of things, the 29-year-old has had the best year of his career and should be proud of what he has achieved.