Football

Gabriel Jesus got injury advice from Brazilian legend Ronaldo at Neymar’s birthday bash

The Manchester City striker met former Inter Milan and Real Madrid striker Ronaldo at Neymar’s birthday bash in Paris last week and talked to him about the medial ligament injury that has kept him out of action since New Year’s Eve.

Jesus, who has missed City’s last 11 games, was expected to be back in time for their Champions League last-16 first leg win over Basel on Tuesday. But he has still not returned to full training and admits he is struggling to rebuild confidence in his knee six weeks after suffering the injury in the goalless draw with Crystal Palace.

“I’m still a little scared,” he said. “In a week I’ll spend more days hitting the ball – I think I’m losing the fear. It is a question of confidence – to take the fear out of the head.”

Ronaldo, now 41, had two serious knee injuries in his career but bounced from the first to help Brazil win the 2002 World Cup. The injuries were worse than the one Jesus suffered at Selhurst Park but Ronaldo was able to give his 20-year-old compatriot some much-needed encouragement.

“He’s a guy I’ve always been a fan of,” said Jesus. “Besides the player that he was, I had the pleasure of getting to know the person he is, which made me admire him even more. He has conquered everything, but he is humble and great company to talk to.

“There were a lot of negative things in my head when I did the injury which is logical. When I felt the pain there, I tried to continue after the throw-in, and I could not.

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“That moment was complicated because I had thoughts about the rest of the season, the national team, the World Cup – I thought of everything. But my family gave me a lot of support.

“Thank God it was not a worse injury. I’m better, every day better, recovering well. I put it in my head that I have to recover well and not fast.

“The knee is a very complicated part, even more so as I’ve never had an injury there. I need to recover well, treat it well, and take good care of myself so that I can get back better than I was.”

Pep Guardiola insists Jesus is on the way back soon but the former Palmeiros striker is likely to need at least two weeks of full training to build up his fitness before he could be considered for the first team.

Jesus added: “I always said I’m going to do it. I’ll train a lot. I’ll try to help my team-mates here at City, and Brazil have two friendlies in March and I’ll try [to be ready] – if I get selected.”

While Jesus is still feeling his way back, City’s trophy hopes were boosted by the return of a trio of stars – David Silva, Leroy Sane and Fabian Delph – in the impressive win in Switzerland.

But Fernandinho says they are refusing to listen to the increasing “buzz” about their quadruple chances as the bookies continue to slash the odds, insisting it would be dangerous to look too far ahead.

“Probably that’s our uniqueness; we don’t listen to the buzz around us,” said the Brazilian midfielder. “We know the definitions are coming over the next three or four months. But we keep thinking game by game and that’s important.

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“We’re not trying to reach further than is possible. That’s a virtue we’ve got. We have an incredible preparation for each game. The focus is 100 per cent.

“We can’t deny that our confidence is really high when you look at our results and the way we’ve been playing and scoring.

“The team is getting more and more confident and that’s the way to get our goals; go through in Champions League, keep our position in the Premier League and try to get the title as soon as possible, plus our chances in the two competitions.” 

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