In a broad and revealing interview, Jorginho discusses his nutritional ‘re-education’, what he’s missed during isolation, and the band he’s created with his son…
It is now over six weeks since the Chelsea squad last trained together, but unlike the time in late May, June and early July when the focus turns to holidays or international football, it is in the middle of a season that play has stopped.
The global pandemic that brought such a sudden halt to proceedings has changed everyone’s lives, in different ways. For professional footballers, the rhythm and routine to which they have been accustomed since their teenage years has been upset.
For Jorginho, isolating in London, the process of adaption has taken time.
‘It was pretty hard at the beginning,’ he says.
‘It’s complicated, isn’t it? It’s our work, but it’s not only our work. Everybody who ends up doing a job that they love misses it, even more, when they can’t do it. If you are a journalist and you love journalism, you’ll definitely end up missing that work. For us, it’s the same thing.
‘The routine of going into the dressing room, all the messing around all day, joking around and all that. There is also the serious part of the job as well out on the pitch, seeing who wins the match, you have all that extra stuff as well. Obviously, the game day is adrenaline-filled and there’s lots of emotion.
‘So, we’re missing that quite a lot. It’s an opportunity to experience something that we haven’t experienced before but of course, we end up missing doing what we love to do.
‘And after all of this is over, I think we are going to have learned a lot, taking the positives aspects of this experience in order to value what we had before, and to value even more what we didn’t have before.’
Excluding key workers and those on the frontline, filling time has been one of the major challenges of lockdown. Jorginho has watched some old football matches, but in truth they have only made him miss the game more. Instead he has turned to a musical instrument he used to play, with the help of his five-year-old son Vitor.
‘You have to find something else to do to keep yourself busy. I, for instance, have assembled my bicycle, and I got my guitar again to play and practice.
‘The worst part is that I can more or less play but the singing just doesn’t come off,’ he laughs. ‘As I am learning, the songs I play are the ones with the most basic notes: rock, sertanejo or pagode.
‘I had stopped playing because there came a moment that whenever I played the guitar my son wanted my attention! Basically he didn’t let me play the guitar and would go crazy so I may as well have broken the guitar. That was a bit of a downer!
‘But a bit of time has passed since then, so with the quarantine and all that I grabbed a guitar and he stayed calm when I played. So, my son decided that he wanted to play as well, so we got a little guitar and some drums and that’s what we do. We call ourselves ‘The Enemies of Rhythm’. That’s our band!’
When not playing his guitar or spending time with his children, Jorginho is managing his diet carefully. The temptation for regular trips to the fridge during isolation remains, but as he explains in detail his understanding of nourishment and its impact on the body has greatly increased since he employed a personal nutritionist during his time at Napoli. He also admits he is lucky not to have a sweet tooth!
‘I wasn’t aware how vital your diet is; I thought training and playing was all there is to it,’ he says. ‘Since I began to learn more from my nutritionist, I developed an interest in the subject. I like to learn new things, I’m a very curious person. So I studied it more and more and began to notice the difference in myself, and how I reacted.
‘Because in my ignorance, when I heard people talking of diets - my colleagues would come to me and say, “You need to go on a diet, man, you eat way too much”. So when I thought about dieting, I imagined I’d have to cut off all kinds of food and live on salad alone…
‘But that’s not how it works for us footballers,’ continues Jorginho.
‘It’s more of a diet re-education, really, for nothing was cut off and I kept eating quite a lot. I’d eat up to 220 grams of rice or spaghetti before matches, which is not little. And so all that fear I felt when I thought about dieting faded away as I learned more about it.
‘Besides, I started to see the results of that dieting in myself. A speedier recovery after matches, for example, where I felt that I could return to training more quickly. So I’ve become aware of all these benefits and now I cannot go back to living as lazily as I used to.
‘And the nutritionist himself tells me, “You’re only human. Of course you can eat a chocolate bar or candy sometimes, but then you have to compensate by eating less in the next meal. Because you have to strike a balance.” That goes for all things in life.’
Striking a balance in all facets of life in these uncertain times is far from easy, but Jorginho is quick to acknowledge who the ‘real heroes’ are right now. He concludes with a message to them, and an encouragement to others to stay at home as much as they can during the pandemic.
‘First of all, to all the healthcare professionals who are doing everything they can, they are the real heroes,’ states Jorginho.
‘They are there on the front lines, making sacrifices and putting their own life at risk to save the lives of others, shift after shift. I believe they deserve all the support in the world. They deserve applause every day and not just on Thursdays as the public has been doing [in the UK].
‘For the people who want to try and help those workers do their jobs, don’t just clap in support, you can do your part, take the necessary precautions. If you can stay at home, stay at home, because in doing so, you will help those workers who are already doing so much. Otherwise, we would only add to their workload.
‘So, in addition to the support being shown to the workers, my message to the general public is to support them by doing their part, stay at home, follow the guidelines that are given so that we can all defeat this virus, this crazy situation which I have never seen before.
‘That’s the message that I would like to send. Well done to all the healthcare workers. I really respect all the work that they are doing. And to the general public, let’s help the workers by not creating further problems and respect everyone.’