Gabriel Jesus has proclaimed his pride at wearing the Brazil No9 shirt made sacred by the likes of Careca and Ronaldo.
The fairytale starts of Tite’s reign and Jesus’s international career – which began simultaneously – continued in Peru in 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifying on Tuesday evening. There, Brazil made it 18 points from a possible 18 under the self-effacing 55-year-old, and the 19-year-old forward hit his fifth goal in six appearances for his country. Jesus also set up the second goal in a 2-0 success and impressed with his habitual harrying of defenders.
“To be really honest, I didn’t imagine this could happen,” said the Palmeiras player, who will join Manchester City in January. “I know that by working hard, things flow, you’ll get opportunities. It’s working hard, forgetting about off-the-field stuff, focusing on the game always.
“I’ve been working tight-lipped, quietly, wanting to help my team-mates and Brazil. When it comes to Brazil there are so many quality players who could wear the No9. I’m so proud to have this opportunity to wear such a sacred shirt.”
Brazil were sixth in the South American standings – they were only above seventh-placed Paraguay on goal difference – when Tite took over in July. Now they head the South American standings, four points clear of second-placed Uruguay and eight above fifth-placed Argentina. The top four teams qualify automatically for Russia 2018.
“I didn’t expect all of this and I have to thank God,” said Tite following the win in Lima. “I don’t know if I deserve it, but I’m very happy.”