Composed on the ball and a vital voice in the Chelsea side off it, it’s fair to say Jorginho is certainly helping to orchestrate the fine tune Thomas Tuchel’s Blues are playing right now.
The Italian has been a key fixture at the base of the Chelsea midfield since signing from Napoli, working under Maurizio Sarri, Frank Lampard and our current German head coach to become a key component in the Chelsea side.
Fresh from putting in a stunning display in midweek to help the Blues reach the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2013/14, it felt only right to sit down with Jorginho to discuss our progression to the last four, his leadership skills and those wild celebrations with Thiago Silva after seeing close friend Emerson score…
Jorginho, thanks for joining us. You’ve just helped Chelsea into the semi-finals of the Champions League, the furthest you’ve gone personally in the competition. How does that feel and what have you made of the run so far?
It’s been incredible. We have worked very hard and I think we deserve to be at this stage of the competition, playing against the top teams in Europe. We just need to keep this mentality for each game, continue working hard and see where this journey can take us.
Does this feel different to our 2019 Europa League run? How so?
Of course, it feels a little different because it is a different competition. The Europa League is a great competition and it was a very special day when we won the trophy in Baku [2019, v Arsenal]. But the Champions League is the best competition for the best teams in Europe. It’s where everybody wants to be and we have a good chance of doing something great here, so we want to keep pushing on. Of course the two competitions are different but we want the same end goal, to lift the trophy.
You seem to have a close relationship with Emerson, so how pleased were you to see him score that important goal against Atletico? The celebrations certainly looked good from the stands!
It was just amazing. We are all friends in this team and we support one another but it’s true, I have a close relationship with Emerson so when he scored I was really happy for him. He works so hard every single day and he deserved that moment.
It was funny because Emerson had been joking to Thiago [Silva] and I in training that he only needs one good ball to him to score. So when he was coming on, I turned to Thiago and said, “I think today he will have one touch of the ball and score.”
I could see that Atletico were constantly coming at us, trying to get a goal and I thought we could catch them on the counter-attack. Thiago joked that if Emerson scored, he would jump from the stands to celebrate. Then when the counter happened and Emerson was running forward, Thiago and I just looked at each other and I said, “oh my god, it’s going to happen!” Then when he scored, we were all so happy for him and as you can see from the celebrations, we all went a little crazy!
You’ve been working well in a double-six with Kovacic and Kante this season. How are you enjoying that role and what’s your responsibility in the team?
I am enjoying it a lot and it’s very good to play in this position for the team. I feel very comfortable in this role and when you have players around you like Kova and Kante, who have so much quality, it makes everything easy for you to do your job.
I really enjoy the role. I think you need to do a lot of organising, making sure we know when to press and how to escape the opposition’s attack and to always be focused on what is happening around you, looking for passes to start an attack quickly.
You’re known for your passing ability at Chelsea but how much do you think that has progressed over the past few seasons?
I like to say that it has come on a lot, I think my passing ability comes naturally to me but of course, I do work on this in training all the time.
Yes, I do think I have improved during my time at Chelsea and of course, I know my team-mates better and how we play. It takes time to know one another but we are doing this very well and I hope my passing can help us get out of situations and attack the opponents.
Not only your passing but your tackling has also been key to some of our recent wins. Is that something you’ve worked on and what is the key to tackling successfully?
It is important to help the team out defensively, especially in the role I play. I need to be there to protect the defence and also screen the play when Reece, Callum, Chilly or whoever goes forward from the wide full-back areas.
It is important I can make tackles to help the team and this is something I work on. I think a player who is a good tackler is someone who is switched on for every second of the game and can sense the danger early.
What gives you more joy, winning the ball back with a saving tackle or playing a pinpoint pass to set up a goal?
Good question! I think it depends on the situation. Of course, setting up a goal is always a great feeling and it helps the team. But at the same time, winning your defensive duels are also important and that gives me joy too. It means you are helping your team-mates out and it is a nice feeling. It’s hard to pick one because both are great feelings for me but in very different situations.
You’ve played in both the Premier League and Serie A. What do you think are the main differences between the two?
I think the intensity of the game and the physicality of the Premier League is something I’ve really noticed during my time here. All the teams in the Premier League have players who are so strong, so fast and it is a very demanding league.
In Italy, I think teams work more on the tactical side of the game and it is maybe more of a ‘thinking game’. Whereas the Premier League, I think, is more about power, running, tackling, putting in crosses and being so strong throughout.
How important is it to be a leader in the team?
It’s very important. We have some real leaders in the team, not just me, and you can see that from the likes of Azpi, Thiago and Oli [Giroud].
It is important not just for us to help but also for the younger players to look at us and maybe learn from us. It is very important for them to listen and all teams have players who want to help the younger guys too. It’s important for them to listen but it’s also important for us to listen to them, because we can learn from the young players too. Everyone can learn off others and improve every day and we just need to keep supporting one another.
Is being a leader a trait that you’ve always had?
I think so, yes. Even when I was young, I was looking to help players out on the pitch and it’s something I’ve always had inside me. It doesn’t matter if I was younger and talking to the older guys, because we all want the same end result. I am happy to help my team-mates and instruct them where I can. I like to try and promote myself well and help my team-mates out.