Brazilian boys in blue

Together, Ederson and Gabriel Jesus are key players in a team that craves European glory. Their approach to football, and life in general, might just take them from São Paulo to Champions League winners medals.

WORDS Dan Poole and Caroline De Moraes | PHOTOGRAPHY Michael Regan

Interview
The fact that Ederson Santana de Moraes and Gabriel Fernando de Jesus play at opposite ends of the pitch is about the only thing that separates them. They are both Brazilian, of course, and both from São Paulo, where they grew up about six miles apart. Unfortunately, growing up wasn’t easy for either of them: Ederson is from an area called Osasco, known for its poverty and violence, while Jesus started life in Jardim Peri, a favela.

Both players are in agreement on how they got from where they were then to where they are now: family. “I will always praise the care, the love and the education my mother gave us when she was raising me and my siblings,” says Jesus, whose father left before he was born and died in a motorcycle accident not long afterwards. “She was a hero for taking care of us on her own. Every time I score a goal, I dedicate it to my mother. And she knows that.”

Ederson is similarly glowing about the support he had when he was young. “My parents always encouraged me and worked to provide me with everything I needed. I think that my dad feels more fulfilled than me, because he is a man that strived a lot for me to be where I am today. So 99% of this achievement is his. Sometimes you only notice the achievements of a player and you don’t consider the path they took, the difficulties they had, the tears they cried and the barriers they had to overcome.”

The pair are speaking to Champions Journal via Zoom from City’s training base in Manchester. Relaxed and at ease, it is clear the family ethos has endured in England’s northwest. “The Brazilian footballing community, within Liverpool, Man City and Man United, are very close,” says Fred Caldeira, a fellow Brazilian based in the city as a football correspondent for TV station Esporte Interativo. “The Premier League has never had so many Brazilian footballers, and so many being the best players in their teams. They are all together; they bond regardless of which club they play for. And at City, Fernandinho was the one who guided Gabriel and Ederson through English football.”

The young daughters of Fernandinho and Ederson “are joined at the hip”, says the goalkeeper, and this affection between compatriots is matched at the club. “We’re always together, we’re always joking with each other and laughing, regardless of the situation,” adds Ederson. “I think that’s important. We need to convey happiness to our team-mates and the happiness of the Brazilian people is very contagious.”

Jesus concurs. “It’s important to have Brazilian players in all clubs because we convey the joy of playing football. And having three players that share this positivity is great and positive for our club.”

For all the synergy between these two Brazilians, there is one area where they differ: their routes to the top. Jesus’s journey has been the more conventional, in that he was a striker from the get-go. “He is always in the right place at the right time – and he’s always been like that.” Those were the words of José Francisco Mamede, who coached the forward at his junior club. Jesus signed as a professional with Palmeiras in 2014, helped them win their first national championship in 22 years in 2016 and signed a pre-contract agreement with City soon after.

Ederson’s career had a less traditional start: as a reluctant left-back. “At first I didn’t like football that much, but my brother started taking lessons and I played to keep up with him,” he says. “But I was not good at defending. My coach used to say that I had to get a taxi to get back and defend. Then I asked my mother to speak to the coach and ask him to put me in goal. I started liking it and eventually it became my passion.”

“THE PREMIER LEAGUE HAS NEVER HAD SO MANY BRAZILIAN FOOTBALLERS, AND SO MANY BEING THE BEST PLAYERS IN THEIR TEAMS. THEY ARE ALL TOGETHER; THEY BOND REGARDLESS OF WHICH CLUB THEY PLAY FOR”
“BRAZILIAN PLAYERS CONVEY THE JOY OF PLAYING FOOTBALL”

A place at São Paulo’s academy followed but he was ultimately considered surplus to requirements. There was no obvious next step until an unexpected call from Benfica, who he joined aged 16. He was there for two years, then moved on again to two different smaller clubs in Portugal, then back to Benfica, then won two league titles with them, then to City, then…

Then the Champions League. It’s a competition in which City have played some scintillating football over the past few seasons, without having hit the heights (specifically that highest of heights) that they crave. “The truth is that to win the Champions League you need an extra something – and this team has been maturing,” says Jesus. “When I’m in the tunnel waiting to go onto the field and I hear the song, I get very emotional. I remember my past, when I wanted to be a football player. I would sometimes skip school to watch some games – I hope my mother doesn’t see this interview! To be able to play today, to make my mark in this competition, makes me very happy.”

Last season the striker became the youngest Brazilian player to score ten goals in the competition; not bad when you consider the pedigree includes Neymar, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaká, Romário et al. “Each player writes his own history and I’m writing mine,” says Jesus. “I’m obviously happy to have set that record but I hope younger players can break it, as this would mean a good thing for Brazil and Brazilians.

“I demand a lot from myself, as I’m a striker. I’ve long made a resolution that I must score plenty of goals. I know I have to improve on a daily basis, seeking perfection even if it’s unreachable. I must seek it by working hard every day to improve bit by bit.”

With City’s all-time leading scorer Sergio Agüero setting the standard, Jesus has an example to aspire to. “He’s the greatest. I’ve been learning from him since my arrival at the club and I also think that he learns a bit from me. We work very well together. I want to benefit from his advice and observe his movements because he is a player that really focuses on contributing to the team. Considering that he is one of the greatest idols of the club, we have to be united.”

Ederson has also been excelling in Europe. Manager Pep Guardiola brought him to the club because he wanted a goalkeeper who is comfortable with the ball at his feet and able to start attacks. And that doesn’t just mean short passes to his full-backs: he’s also revered for his ability to kick long and accurately. One such example was in the Champions League against Schalke in 2019, when his 80-metre ball to Raheem Sterling resulted in a goal and a 3-2 win in injury time. “I saw Sterling with his arm in the air, asking for the ball,” he says. “I thought to myself, ‘It’s the end of the game, I may as well.’ The ball ended up bouncing and losing a bit of speed, so I think that was really important for him to be able to score. It was a nice assist wasn’t it?”

Ederson says that a key factor in his success is a football education that’s rooted in the indoor five-a-side game futsal; it’s played at a quick pace with a smaller ball, which demands great skill and control. “Football requires modern keepers and since I played futsal for many years, that helped a lot in developing my footwork. I was a keeper who also played as an outfield player, as the team both attacked and defended as a unit.”

Ederson has a reputation for being shy but it’s not something that comes across during the interview; reserved perhaps, a little bit quiet even, but certainly not bashful. Jesus is more outgoing and lively, which helps to bring the goalkeeper out of his shell; they undoubtedly share a bond. Well, most of the time.

“Everybody knows that Ederson has a strong character, everybody fears him – except for me,” says the striker, smiling. “But he is a strong and bold player, and I really admire him both as a person and as a player.”

And what about as a DJ? We ask Ederson what music he likes to play in the dressing room before a game, when he gets the opportunity. “Funk – heavy funk music,” comes the straight-faced reply. Are his team-mates OK with that? “No, but they have to respect it.”

“Yes, if he says that it’s funk, then funk it is,” adds Jesus, both players now giggling. “No one will go against that.”

It would seem that these two Brazilians are content in life and football, as well as being an integral part of the team – increasingly so in the case of Jesus. It’s not just his goals (71 in 156 games for City at the time of writing) but also his ability to harry and harass defenders that sets him apart. “Gabriel is the best striker at making the high intensity pressing in the world,” said Guardiola in 2019. He illustrated that in the second leg of the round of 16 match against Real Madrid last season, when he dispossessed Raphaël Varane to set up Sterling for a tap-in; he was also on hand to pounce on a mix-up in the Real defence to score one of his own.

“I want to always be playing and doing things, and enjoying what I love the most,” says Jesus. “I’ve gone through both happy and unhappy spells in my career, so I’ve been maturing more and more. I have to mature further still.”

Swapping São Paulo for a city in the north of England is part of that learning curve. “I like the culture,” says Jesus. But he’s not talking about the Whitworth Art Gallery or the Manchester Museum, but instead the fact that life feels stable and safe. “I like the fact that everything works, and also the sense of security. That really gets my attention. That’s what I like about here.”

What about what they most miss from Brazil? This time we ask them to answer on each other’s behalf. “Osasco, his hometown,” says Jesus of his compatriot. “The sun,” says Ederson, perhaps revealing some of his own thinking at the same time.

We also wonder how they like to spend their time outside of football. “He’s with his children,” says Jesus. “What I like the most is being at home with my family, my dogs,” confirms Ederson. “That’s priceless and it is the best part of my day.” What about Gabriel? “Gabriel plays Counter-Strike.” Family and fun. City’s Brazilian boys in blue.

For the chance to win signed Ederson and Gabriel Jesus shirts, enter our competition HERE.

WORDS Simon Hart
Brazilian influence

Club ambassador and former winger Mike Summerbee might have played with Pelé in the 1981 film Escape to Victory, but it was only recently that a Brazilian influence took hold at City. Indeed, their first boys from Brazil, midfielder Geovanni and winger Elano, only arrived in the summer of 2007. While Geovanni lasted just a year and made two league starts – scoring a Manchester derby winner on one of them – Elano’s contribution was more consistently felt across his two seasons, with 18 goals scored.  

The summer of 2008 brought another Brazilian trio. Striker Jô, signed before the club’s Abu Dhabi takeover, managed just one league goal. Robinho arrived with considerably more fanfare as the first superstar signing of the Sheikh Mansour era in a £32.5m move from Real Madrid, but was back in Brazil on loan at Santos by 2010. Berti Glauber, meanwhile, holds cult status among City fans for having sat on the bench 20 times in 2008/09 but made the pitch only for a six-minute final-day runout against Bolton Wanderers.

Since then, City have largely looked for Brazilians to plug gaps further back: full-backs Sylvinho, Maicon and Danilo, and midfielder Fernando. Then there’s Fernandinho, a £34m recruit from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013 who’s now in his eighth season at the club and a pivotal figure in their two title triumphs under Guardiola.

Both players are in agreement on how they got from where they were then to where they are now: family. “I will always praise the care, the love and the education my mother gave us when she was raising me and my siblings,” says Jesus, whose father left before he was born and died in a motorcycle accident not long afterwards. “She was a hero for taking care of us on her own. Every time I score a goal, I dedicate it to my mother. And she knows that.”

Ederson is similarly glowing about the support he had when he was young. “My parents always encouraged me and worked to provide me with everything I needed. I think that my dad feels more fulfilled than me, because he is a man that strived a lot for me to be where I am today. So 99% of this achievement is his. Sometimes you only notice the achievements of a player and you don’t consider the path they took, the difficulties they had, the tears they cried and the barriers they had to overcome.”

The pair are speaking to Champions Journal via Zoom from City’s training base in Manchester. Relaxed and at ease, it is clear the family ethos has endured in England’s northwest. “The Brazilian footballing community, within Liverpool, Man City and Man United, are very close,” says Fred Caldeira, a fellow Brazilian based in the city as a football correspondent for TV station Esporte Interativo. “The Premier League has never had so many Brazilian footballers, and so many being the best players in their teams. They are all together; they bond regardless of which club they play for. And at City, Fernandinho was the one who guided Gabriel and Ederson through English football.”

The young daughters of Fernandinho and Ederson “are joined at the hip”, says the goalkeeper, and this affection between compatriots is matched at the club. “We’re always together, we’re always joking with each other and laughing, regardless of the situation,” adds Ederson. “I think that’s important. We need to convey happiness to our team-mates and the happiness of the Brazilian people is very contagious.”

Jesus concurs. “It’s important to have Brazilian players in all clubs because we convey the joy of playing football. And having three players that share this positivity is great and positive for our club.”

For all the synergy between these two Brazilians, there is one area where they differ: their routes to the top. Jesus’s journey has been the more conventional, in that he was a striker from the get-go. “He is always in the right place at the right time – and he’s always been like that.” Those were the words of José Francisco Mamede, who coached the forward at his junior club. Jesus signed as a professional with Palmeiras in 2014, helped them win their first national championship in 22 years in 2016 and signed a pre-contract agreement with City soon after.

Ederson’s career had a less traditional start: as a reluctant left-back. “At first I didn’t like football that much, but my brother started taking lessons and I played to keep up with him,” he says. “But I was not good at defending. My coach used to say that I had to get a taxi to get back and defend. Then I asked my mother to speak to the coach and ask him to put me in goal. I started liking it and eventually it became my passion.”

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!
“THE PREMIER LEAGUE HAS NEVER HAD SO MANY BRAZILIAN FOOTBALLERS, AND SO MANY BEING THE BEST PLAYERS IN THEIR TEAMS. THEY ARE ALL TOGETHER; THEY BOND REGARDLESS OF WHICH CLUB THEY PLAY FOR”
“BRAZILIAN PLAYERS CONVEY THE JOY OF PLAYING FOOTBALL”

A place at São Paulo’s academy followed but he was ultimately considered surplus to requirements. There was no obvious next step until an unexpected call from Benfica, who he joined aged 16. He was there for two years, then moved on again to two different smaller clubs in Portugal, then back to Benfica, then won two league titles with them, then to City, then…

Then the Champions League. It’s a competition in which City have played some scintillating football over the past few seasons, without having hit the heights (specifically that highest of heights) that they crave. “The truth is that to win the Champions League you need an extra something – and this team has been maturing,” says Jesus. “When I’m in the tunnel waiting to go onto the field and I hear the song, I get very emotional. I remember my past, when I wanted to be a football player. I would sometimes skip school to watch some games – I hope my mother doesn’t see this interview! To be able to play today, to make my mark in this competition, makes me very happy.”

Last season the striker became the youngest Brazilian player to score ten goals in the competition; not bad when you consider the pedigree includes Neymar, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaká, Romário et al. “Each player writes his own history and I’m writing mine,” says Jesus. “I’m obviously happy to have set that record but I hope younger players can break it, as this would mean a good thing for Brazil and Brazilians.

“I demand a lot from myself, as I’m a striker. I’ve long made a resolution that I must score plenty of goals. I know I have to improve on a daily basis, seeking perfection even if it’s unreachable. I must seek it by working hard every day to improve bit by bit.”

With City’s all-time leading scorer Sergio Agüero setting the standard, Jesus has an example to aspire to. “He’s the greatest. I’ve been learning from him since my arrival at the club and I also think that he learns a bit from me. We work very well together. I want to benefit from his advice and observe his movements because he is a player that really focuses on contributing to the team. Considering that he is one of the greatest idols of the club, we have to be united.”

Ederson has also been excelling in Europe. Manager Pep Guardiola brought him to the club because he wanted a goalkeeper who is comfortable with the ball at his feet and able to start attacks. And that doesn’t just mean short passes to his full-backs: he’s also revered for his ability to kick long and accurately. One such example was in the Champions League against Schalke in 2019, when his 80-metre ball to Raheem Sterling resulted in a goal and a 3-2 win in injury time. “I saw Sterling with his arm in the air, asking for the ball,” he says. “I thought to myself, ‘It’s the end of the game, I may as well.’ The ball ended up bouncing and losing a bit of speed, so I think that was really important for him to be able to score. It was a nice assist wasn’t it?”

Ederson says that a key factor in his success is a football education that’s rooted in the indoor five-a-side game futsal; it’s played at a quick pace with a smaller ball, which demands great skill and control. “Football requires modern keepers and since I played futsal for many years, that helped a lot in developing my footwork. I was a keeper who also played as an outfield player, as the team both attacked and defended as a unit.”

Ederson has a reputation for being shy but it’s not something that comes across during the interview; reserved perhaps, a little bit quiet even, but certainly not bashful. Jesus is more outgoing and lively, which helps to bring the goalkeeper out of his shell; they undoubtedly share a bond. Well, most of the time.

“Everybody knows that Ederson has a strong character, everybody fears him – except for me,” says the striker, smiling. “But he is a strong and bold player, and I really admire him both as a person and as a player.”

And what about as a DJ? We ask Ederson what music he likes to play in the dressing room before a game, when he gets the opportunity. “Funk – heavy funk music,” comes the straight-faced reply. Are his team-mates OK with that? “No, but they have to respect it.”

“Yes, if he says that it’s funk, then funk it is,” adds Jesus, both players now giggling. “No one will go against that.”

It would seem that these two Brazilians are content in life and football, as well as being an integral part of the team – increasingly so in the case of Jesus. It’s not just his goals (71 in 156 games for City at the time of writing) but also his ability to harry and harass defenders that sets him apart. “Gabriel is the best striker at making the high intensity pressing in the world,” said Guardiola in 2019. He illustrated that in the second leg of the round of 16 match against Real Madrid last season, when he dispossessed Raphaël Varane to set up Sterling for a tap-in; he was also on hand to pounce on a mix-up in the Real defence to score one of his own.

“I want to always be playing and doing things, and enjoying what I love the most,” says Jesus. “I’ve gone through both happy and unhappy spells in my career, so I’ve been maturing more and more. I have to mature further still.”

Swapping São Paulo for a city in the north of England is part of that learning curve. “I like the culture,” says Jesus. But he’s not talking about the Whitworth Art Gallery or the Manchester Museum, but instead the fact that life feels stable and safe. “I like the fact that everything works, and also the sense of security. That really gets my attention. That’s what I like about here.”

What about what they most miss from Brazil? This time we ask them to answer on each other’s behalf. “Osasco, his hometown,” says Jesus of his compatriot. “The sun,” says Ederson, perhaps revealing some of his own thinking at the same time.

We also wonder how they like to spend their time outside of football. “He’s with his children,” says Jesus. “What I like the most is being at home with my family, my dogs,” confirms Ederson. “That’s priceless and it is the best part of my day.” What about Gabriel? “Gabriel plays Counter-Strike.” Family and fun. City’s Brazilian boys in blue.

For the chance to win signed Ederson and Gabriel Jesus shirts, enter our competition HERE.

WORDS Simon Hart
Brazilian influence

Club ambassador and former winger Mike Summerbee might have played with Pelé in the 1981 film Escape to Victory, but it was only recently that a Brazilian influence took hold at City. Indeed, their first boys from Brazil, midfielder Geovanni and winger Elano, only arrived in the summer of 2007. While Geovanni lasted just a year and made two league starts – scoring a Manchester derby winner on one of them – Elano’s contribution was more consistently felt across his two seasons, with 18 goals scored.  

The summer of 2008 brought another Brazilian trio. Striker Jô, signed before the club’s Abu Dhabi takeover, managed just one league goal. Robinho arrived with considerably more fanfare as the first superstar signing of the Sheikh Mansour era in a £32.5m move from Real Madrid, but was back in Brazil on loan at Santos by 2010. Berti Glauber, meanwhile, holds cult status among City fans for having sat on the bench 20 times in 2008/09 but made the pitch only for a six-minute final-day runout against Bolton Wanderers.

Since then, City have largely looked for Brazilians to plug gaps further back: full-backs Sylvinho, Maicon and Danilo, and midfielder Fernando. Then there’s Fernandinho, a £34m recruit from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013 who’s now in his eighth season at the club and a pivotal figure in their two title triumphs under Guardiola.

Both players are in agreement on how they got from where they were then to where they are now: family. “I will always praise the care, the love and the education my mother gave us when she was raising me and my siblings,” says Jesus, whose father left before he was born and died in a motorcycle accident not long afterwards. “She was a hero for taking care of us on her own. Every time I score a goal, I dedicate it to my mother. And she knows that.”

Ederson is similarly glowing about the support he had when he was young. “My parents always encouraged me and worked to provide me with everything I needed. I think that my dad feels more fulfilled than me, because he is a man that strived a lot for me to be where I am today. So 99% of this achievement is his. Sometimes you only notice the achievements of a player and you don’t consider the path they took, the difficulties they had, the tears they cried and the barriers they had to overcome.”

The pair are speaking to Champions Journal via Zoom from City’s training base in Manchester. Relaxed and at ease, it is clear the family ethos has endured in England’s northwest. “The Brazilian footballing community, within Liverpool, Man City and Man United, are very close,” says Fred Caldeira, a fellow Brazilian based in the city as a football correspondent for TV station Esporte Interativo. “The Premier League has never had so many Brazilian footballers, and so many being the best players in their teams. They are all together; they bond regardless of which club they play for. And at City, Fernandinho was the one who guided Gabriel and Ederson through English football.”

The young daughters of Fernandinho and Ederson “are joined at the hip”, says the goalkeeper, and this affection between compatriots is matched at the club. “We’re always together, we’re always joking with each other and laughing, regardless of the situation,” adds Ederson. “I think that’s important. We need to convey happiness to our team-mates and the happiness of the Brazilian people is very contagious.”

Jesus concurs. “It’s important to have Brazilian players in all clubs because we convey the joy of playing football. And having three players that share this positivity is great and positive for our club.”

For all the synergy between these two Brazilians, there is one area where they differ: their routes to the top. Jesus’s journey has been the more conventional, in that he was a striker from the get-go. “He is always in the right place at the right time – and he’s always been like that.” Those were the words of José Francisco Mamede, who coached the forward at his junior club. Jesus signed as a professional with Palmeiras in 2014, helped them win their first national championship in 22 years in 2016 and signed a pre-contract agreement with City soon after.

Ederson’s career had a less traditional start: as a reluctant left-back. “At first I didn’t like football that much, but my brother started taking lessons and I played to keep up with him,” he says. “But I was not good at defending. My coach used to say that I had to get a taxi to get back and defend. Then I asked my mother to speak to the coach and ask him to put me in goal. I started liking it and eventually it became my passion.”

“THE PREMIER LEAGUE HAS NEVER HAD SO MANY BRAZILIAN FOOTBALLERS, AND SO MANY BEING THE BEST PLAYERS IN THEIR TEAMS. THEY ARE ALL TOGETHER; THEY BOND REGARDLESS OF WHICH CLUB THEY PLAY FOR”
“BRAZILIAN PLAYERS CONVEY THE JOY OF PLAYING FOOTBALL”

A place at São Paulo’s academy followed but he was ultimately considered surplus to requirements. There was no obvious next step until an unexpected call from Benfica, who he joined aged 16. He was there for two years, then moved on again to two different smaller clubs in Portugal, then back to Benfica, then won two league titles with them, then to City, then…

Then the Champions League. It’s a competition in which City have played some scintillating football over the past few seasons, without having hit the heights (specifically that highest of heights) that they crave. “The truth is that to win the Champions League you need an extra something – and this team has been maturing,” says Jesus. “When I’m in the tunnel waiting to go onto the field and I hear the song, I get very emotional. I remember my past, when I wanted to be a football player. I would sometimes skip school to watch some games – I hope my mother doesn’t see this interview! To be able to play today, to make my mark in this competition, makes me very happy.”

Last season the striker became the youngest Brazilian player to score ten goals in the competition; not bad when you consider the pedigree includes Neymar, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaká, Romário et al. “Each player writes his own history and I’m writing mine,” says Jesus. “I’m obviously happy to have set that record but I hope younger players can break it, as this would mean a good thing for Brazil and Brazilians.

“I demand a lot from myself, as I’m a striker. I’ve long made a resolution that I must score plenty of goals. I know I have to improve on a daily basis, seeking perfection even if it’s unreachable. I must seek it by working hard every day to improve bit by bit.”

With City’s all-time leading scorer Sergio Agüero setting the standard, Jesus has an example to aspire to. “He’s the greatest. I’ve been learning from him since my arrival at the club and I also think that he learns a bit from me. We work very well together. I want to benefit from his advice and observe his movements because he is a player that really focuses on contributing to the team. Considering that he is one of the greatest idols of the club, we have to be united.”

Ederson has also been excelling in Europe. Manager Pep Guardiola brought him to the club because he wanted a goalkeeper who is comfortable with the ball at his feet and able to start attacks. And that doesn’t just mean short passes to his full-backs: he’s also revered for his ability to kick long and accurately. One such example was in the Champions League against Schalke in 2019, when his 80-metre ball to Raheem Sterling resulted in a goal and a 3-2 win in injury time. “I saw Sterling with his arm in the air, asking for the ball,” he says. “I thought to myself, ‘It’s the end of the game, I may as well.’ The ball ended up bouncing and losing a bit of speed, so I think that was really important for him to be able to score. It was a nice assist wasn’t it?”

Ederson says that a key factor in his success is a football education that’s rooted in the indoor five-a-side game futsal; it’s played at a quick pace with a smaller ball, which demands great skill and control. “Football requires modern keepers and since I played futsal for many years, that helped a lot in developing my footwork. I was a keeper who also played as an outfield player, as the team both attacked and defended as a unit.”

Ederson has a reputation for being shy but it’s not something that comes across during the interview; reserved perhaps, a little bit quiet even, but certainly not bashful. Jesus is more outgoing and lively, which helps to bring the goalkeeper out of his shell; they undoubtedly share a bond. Well, most of the time.

“Everybody knows that Ederson has a strong character, everybody fears him – except for me,” says the striker, smiling. “But he is a strong and bold player, and I really admire him both as a person and as a player.”

And what about as a DJ? We ask Ederson what music he likes to play in the dressing room before a game, when he gets the opportunity. “Funk – heavy funk music,” comes the straight-faced reply. Are his team-mates OK with that? “No, but they have to respect it.”

“Yes, if he says that it’s funk, then funk it is,” adds Jesus, both players now giggling. “No one will go against that.”

It would seem that these two Brazilians are content in life and football, as well as being an integral part of the team – increasingly so in the case of Jesus. It’s not just his goals (71 in 156 games for City at the time of writing) but also his ability to harry and harass defenders that sets him apart. “Gabriel is the best striker at making the high intensity pressing in the world,” said Guardiola in 2019. He illustrated that in the second leg of the round of 16 match against Real Madrid last season, when he dispossessed Raphaël Varane to set up Sterling for a tap-in; he was also on hand to pounce on a mix-up in the Real defence to score one of his own.

“I want to always be playing and doing things, and enjoying what I love the most,” says Jesus. “I’ve gone through both happy and unhappy spells in my career, so I’ve been maturing more and more. I have to mature further still.”

Swapping São Paulo for a city in the north of England is part of that learning curve. “I like the culture,” says Jesus. But he’s not talking about the Whitworth Art Gallery or the Manchester Museum, but instead the fact that life feels stable and safe. “I like the fact that everything works, and also the sense of security. That really gets my attention. That’s what I like about here.”

What about what they most miss from Brazil? This time we ask them to answer on each other’s behalf. “Osasco, his hometown,” says Jesus of his compatriot. “The sun,” says Ederson, perhaps revealing some of his own thinking at the same time.

We also wonder how they like to spend their time outside of football. “He’s with his children,” says Jesus. “What I like the most is being at home with my family, my dogs,” confirms Ederson. “That’s priceless and it is the best part of my day.” What about Gabriel? “Gabriel plays Counter-Strike.” Family and fun. City’s Brazilian boys in blue.

For the chance to win signed Ederson and Gabriel Jesus shirts, enter our competition HERE.

WORDS Simon Hart
Brazilian influence

Club ambassador and former winger Mike Summerbee might have played with Pelé in the 1981 film Escape to Victory, but it was only recently that a Brazilian influence took hold at City. Indeed, their first boys from Brazil, midfielder Geovanni and winger Elano, only arrived in the summer of 2007. While Geovanni lasted just a year and made two league starts – scoring a Manchester derby winner on one of them – Elano’s contribution was more consistently felt across his two seasons, with 18 goals scored.  

The summer of 2008 brought another Brazilian trio. Striker Jô, signed before the club’s Abu Dhabi takeover, managed just one league goal. Robinho arrived with considerably more fanfare as the first superstar signing of the Sheikh Mansour era in a £32.5m move from Real Madrid, but was back in Brazil on loan at Santos by 2010. Berti Glauber, meanwhile, holds cult status among City fans for having sat on the bench 20 times in 2008/09 but made the pitch only for a six-minute final-day runout against Bolton Wanderers.

Since then, City have largely looked for Brazilians to plug gaps further back: full-backs Sylvinho, Maicon and Danilo, and midfielder Fernando. Then there’s Fernandinho, a £34m recruit from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013 who’s now in his eighth season at the club and a pivotal figure in their two title triumphs under Guardiola.

To access this article, as well as all CJ+ content and competitions, you will need a subscription to Champions Journal.
Already a subscriber? Sign in
close
Special Offers
christmas offer
Christmas CHEER
Up to 40% off
Start shopping
50% off
game night flash sale!!!
Don't miss out
00
Hours
:
00
minutes
:
00
Seconds
Valid on selected products only. subscriptions not included
close