Football News

Italy’s “professor” breaks Marcel Desailly’s 25-year record at Euro 2020

By Ben Green

Published: 18:12, 13 July 2021

Italy midfielder Jorginho, dubbed the “professor” by his team-mates, has surpassed Marcel Desailly’s 25-year record at the European Championships for most interceptions at a single tournament.

Jorginho, 29, was arguably Gli Azzurri’s most important cog, alongside Euro 2020’s ‘Player of the Tournament’ Gianluigi Donnarumma, as the nation clinched their second title, beating England 3-2 on penalties in the final at the weekend.

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The Chelsea midfielder has enjoyed a particularly fruitful 2021 so far, already winning the Champions League under mid-season appointment Thomas Tuchel, and now delivering the goods at international level, which has naturally seen his hat thrown into the ring for the Ballon d’Or.

Former boss Maurizio Sarri, who coached Jorginho at Napoli and Stamford Bridge said, prior to the final, that if Roberto Mancini’s men pulled it off, then his former student should be in contention to challenge the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi for football’s ultimate individual prize.

“If he wins the European Championship, he is a candidate for the Ballon d’Or,” Sarri said.

“He’s a refined player and that’s why everyone doesn’t understand him.

“He makes everything seem easy, it’s his greatness. When I went to Chelsea, we managed to snatch him from Manchester City.

“At first it was hard to understand him for the fans, the journalists, now I see that he is appreciated. He was also the captain of Chelsea.”

Once a polarising figure in west London, Jorginho’s recent form has unequivocally shifted opinion and dispelled any previous skepticism, with the Brazilian-born tempo-setter now one of the first names on the teamsheet under Tuchel.

He concluded the 2020/21 season having made the most interceptions of any player in the Champions League (26), and he has translated that form to the international stage, where he has set a record for the most interceptions at a European Championship (25), beating Desailly’s record in 1996 (24).

His crowning glory came in the semi-final win over Spain, where he registered a tournament-high eight interceptions for a single match, finishing ahead of N’Golo Kante’s six for France against Switzerland, which was the second-most across the tournament for one game.

On top of that, Jorginho also covered the most distance of any player at Euro 2020 (86.6km) and won the most fouls (19), with the latter metric placing him third in the overall charts for a single tournament, behind Mario Balotelli (20) in Euro 2012 and Deco (27) in Euro 2004.

Jorginho has not only surpassed Desailly’s record for France half a century ago, but he also moves ahead of the likes of Marcos Senna (22) in Euro 2008, Daniele De Rossi (22) in Euro 2012 and Christian Ziege (22) in Euro 1996.

Luka Modric won the Ballon d’Or in 2018 after winning the Champions League with Real Madrid and captaining Croatia to the World Cup final. Jorginho has just won the Champions League and won a major international tournament with Italy. So, could he be a genuine contender for this year’s coveted award?