From Streets to Stardom
‘The beautiful game’ or ‘ O jogo bonito' is a phrase popularized by Brazilian legend Pele and football has inspired many from all corners of the globe. Played on the rooftops in Tokyo, Japan to the favelas overlooking Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro soccer has brought communities together.
In 2014 the FIFA World Cup was celebrated in Brazil where football is the most popular sport by a landslide. One aspiring talent , Gabriel Jesus stood barefoot on the streets of his hometown preparing for the major tournament. Jesus painted the streets in green and yellow and posted a throwback photo on Twitter showing his efforts:
Seven years ago the Manchester City striker was earning his trade at Palmeiras in Sao Paulo's Under 17 Championship, scoring 37 goals in 22 games.
As a youth in his native Jardim Peri, Gabriel's first taste of football came at the grounds of a north Sao Paulo military prison, on the dirt pitches used by junior club Pequeninos do Meio Ambiente, as it was his only option.
A social project also in the north proved to be pivotal in Jesus' progression as a footballer. ‘Anhanguera' offered children between 13 and 16 the chance to play ‘Varzea', Brazil's equivalent to amateur football.
With support and facilities to improve it wasn't long until Palmeiras came calling and after impressing at underage level he was thrust into the first team. Jesus scored four goals in his first season while winning the best newcomer award and then helped Palmeiras to a first national championship in 2015/16 for over 20 years being named Bola de Ouro (player of the season).
Then came the Rio Olympics and a first football gold medal duly followed for the nation of Brazil.
Jesus was attracting interest from all around the world and in particular Europe. Man City scout Cadu had been a huge admirer of Brazilian's hottest prospect. With a deal agreed in principle in the summer of 2016, Jesus made his debut at the turn of the year in January 2017.
As injuries hindered talisman Sergio Aguero's involvement the youngster was thrown straight into the first team by manager Pep Guardiola. He had the best goal involvement rate in the Premier League in his debut season, 17/18, with seven goals and assisting a further four.
Now with 51 goals and 26 assists in 135 Premier League appearances the 24-year-old has made his mark in England and could be a mainstay in the City XI for years to come.
(Photo by Manchester City FC/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
This season we have seen Jesus deployed as a right-winger and in four games already this term he has provided three assists proving that he is more than just a goalscorer.
Tipped for greatness by compatriot Zico, Jesus has scored 18 times for his country in 47 appearances since making his debut as a teenager back in 2016.
After the suffering of 2014 in their home nation, the five-time World Cup winners are a force again, and having gone from the streets to a Premier League winner in such a short period of time could this boy wonder be the one to deliver the goods in Qatar next winter.