Thomas Tuchel has hailed Jorginho’s personality and character as he backed the Chelsea star to recover from a frustrating international break.
Jorginho missed a penalty as Italy drew with Switzerland, a result that left the European champions in need of a victory against Northern Ireland to ensure their spot at Qatar 2022.
However, the Azzurri – who missed out on Russia 2018 after a play-off defeat to Sweden – must now win two more games in March to book their spot at next year’s World Cup, after they were held to a goalless draw in Belfast and Switzerland thrashed Bulgaria 4-0.
Jorginho has had a stellar year, helping Chelsea to Champions League glory before winning Euro 2020 with Italy. His efforts saw him named UEFA’s Men’s Player of the Year in August, while he has also been nominated for this year’s Ballon d’Or.
Yet after having scored each of the first six penalties taken for Italy, Jorginho has failed his last three (including in shoot-outs, with the midfielder having squandered spot-kicks against both Switzerland and England at Euro 2020).
Jorginho played 68 minutes of Monday’s clash at Windsor Park. Only four Italy players – all defenders – completed more passes than his 53, with 38 of these coming in Northern Ireland’s half, while he made more interceptions than any of his team-mates (three).
“If there’s a guy to handle this disappointment, it’s Jorgi,” Tuchel told a news conference.
“I fully trust his personality, his character. For me the most important thing is that when he arrives here he feels safe in Cobham, that he knows that everybody will support him, no matter what happens outside this building, he is our player, he is fully protected and fully appreciated.
“We are super happy that he’s back. These things happen during a career, he is not the first one to miss an important penalty and will not be the last one.
“He has enough character, enough difficulties in his career if you know the story, like how he made it to professional football, what obstacles he had to overcome, this is a bump on the road and no more.
“We will do everything so that he feels good and can continue to play on the highest level like he did from day one.”
While Jorginho endured a disappointing international break, another Chelsea midfielder enjoyed a first senior call-up.
Having impressed on loan at Crystal Palace so far this season, scoring four league goals, Conor Gallagher was handed his England debut in a 10-0 win over San Marino.
Gallagher, who spent last season on loan at West Brom, only signed a five-year deal at Chelsea in 2020, though Tuchel was asked about plans for the midfielder’s future.
“This is too early to talk about it, way too early in public, before we talk with Conor and see his goals and what he wants,” he replied.
“This will happen [at the end of the season] because we all agreed it was the best step to join Palace and Patrick Vieira.
“I am not surprised that the national coach loves him because I loved him from day one, there cannot be a coach who does not love guys like this.”
Of the possibility of recalling Gallagher in January, Tuchel said: “I have not thought to bring him back earlier, it is important for him to be happy where he is and for him to stay in the moment.
“It’s important to be calm at this stage of his career. I don’t think it’s necessary to change again in January.”
Leaders Chelsea play away to Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday.
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