Gabriel Jesus’ story has seen him plucked from street football in Brazil to boasting a medal collection the envy of footballers across the globe. Here, we track his progress from being a boy in Brazil to a Premier League hotshot.
The making of a star
Born in Sao Paulo in 1997, Jesus grew up in the favelas of Jardim Peri in the Cachoeirinha district. Like many kids his age, any spare time was spent playing barefoot on concrete streets, honing the skills that would make him a standout star at an early age.
In 2013, the 16-year-old’s talents were snapped up by hometown side Palmeiras, and right away the goals began flowing. 54 in 48 games came during his first year in their youth setup, while another 37 in 22 followed in 2014.
That form led to a professional deal and subsequent debut in March 2015, and success quickly followed. Jesus’ first campaign saw him help Palmeiras win the Copa do Brasil, with the 18-year-old starting both legs of the final, and individual honours in the form of the Brazilian top-flight’s Best Newcomer Award.
2016 would prove to be Jesus’ breakout year. Having previously been a member of the Brazil side that reached the FIFA U-20 World Cup final, he was selected for the Rio Olympic Games. He netted three times to help his side reach the final, which he started in attack alongside Neymar as the Seleção claimed the gold medal via a penalty shootout win over Germany.
Success was to continue at club level. He rattled in 21 goals in 46 games to help Palmeiras win their first national championship in 22 years, and followed in the footsteps of Carlos Tevez, Ronaldinho and Neymar by claiming the league’s Player of the Year award.
Unsurprisingly, Europe’s elite had caught onto his potential, and by the time he was claiming team and individual accolades, Manchester City had agreed a £27 million deal that would see the 19-year-old swap south-east Brazil for north-west England.
Jesus was thrust straight into action at City, making his debut as a substitute against Tottenham Hotspur in January 2017, and showed plenty of promise by netting seven times in his first 10 Premier League outings.
13 more would follow in 2017/18, including a last-gasp winner against Southampton on the final day to take his side to an historic 100-point haul. Even better was to come the following season, as City completed a first-ever English domestic treble by thrashing Watford 6-0 in the FA Cup final, with Jesus getting on the scoresheet twice.
Six weeks later, he again made an impact on the big stage by netting in the final of the Copa America, but despite also being sent-off midway through the second half, Brazil took the title by beating Peru 3-1.
The past two campaigns have seen him add two more Premier League medals to his impressive collection, before deciding to start the next chapter of his story in north London.
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