Brazil legend Ronaldo has taken to social media to give Gabriel Jesus a timely pep talk after the Arsenal striker underwent surgery against a backdrop of online abuse from compatriots criticising his recent goal drought.
Included in Brazil’s squad for the World Cup despite not scoring for Arsenal since the beginning of October, Jesus was looking to get back on track in Qatar while simultaneously banishing memories of his goalless performances in Russia in 2018.
On that occasion, he led the line for five consecutive games before Tite’s side were knocked out by Belgium in the quarter-finals.
Unfortunately, Jesus’ experience in the Middle East has arguably been even more disappointing. He made two appearances off the bench against Serbia and Switzerland before starting the 1-0 defeat to Cameroon when he picked up the knee injury that ruled him out of the rest of the tournament. He’s expected to be sidelined for three months.
Defending his friend in a heartfelt message on Instagram, Ronaldo wrote:
Criticism can either be constructive or destructive in one’s life. Words have the power to lift up and tear down — sometimes the same ones that boost one discourage another. Therefore, it is important to be careful what we say, but – above all – what we listen to. Because we can’t control what others will say — and we live in dark times of normalisation of hate speech — but we can filter what comes in our ears. Let your self-image, Gabriel Jesus, not be based on what others say. May you never forget where you came from because that boy who had the dream of being a player didn’t take an easy path, full of opportunities and privileges. That boy did the impossible, the “impossible”, the extraordinary. He left the Peri Garden to conquer the world. He won several titles, was scorer, Copa America champion (decisive in the first achievement of the Tite era), Olympic champion (fundamental in Brazil’s unreleased gold) – all this very new. He’s the Brazilian with the highest averaging goals in Premier League history. While many insist on comparing trajectories to disqualify an athlete, I’m here today to remind you that your story is unique. You came to the National Team with a lot of merit and I hope you still shine bright with your football. May you overcome what needs to be overcome, may you face what needs to be faced, may you continue to believe in your dreams because they are the ones who brought you here. Get well soon, crackhead!
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The message comes just six days since Ronaldo revealed details of a dinner with Jesus in which he praised the player for his “spectacular year at Arsenal” and “how much pleasure I am getting from watching Arsenal this year”.
Jesus underwent surgery in London on Monday and was pictured leaving hospital on crutches but, thankfully, with a smile on his face. He faces a period of rest before some intense rehabilitation.
And no, we have no idea why Ronaldo refers to him as ‘crackhead’…