Jorginho, a Man’s Courage Should Not Become Stubbornness

Everybody was waiting for it, let’s admit it. When referee Felix Zwayer pointed to the penalty spot last night, all Italian fans’ eyes went looking for who would take the ball in his hands and place it on the spot. Jorginho did it and, in the space of a few seconds, a thousand different stories flashed in people’s minds.

Stories of a trip to Qatar that never took place, and stories of how a single penalty converted rather than missed could have made a difference in that regard. Or redemption stories, featuring a man who suddenly used the chance given him by fate to break his personal curse and make peace with his past. That man was Jorginho.

By missing two penalties in a row in two games against Switzerland more than one year ago, Jorginho had triggered that dramatic chain of events that would culminate with Italy’s shocking second missed qualification to a World Cup in a row. Had he scored even only one of those, the Azzurri would have taken a flight to Qatar and a lot of things could have gone differently.

Of course, Jorginho’s lost battle with the penalty spot was far from being the only reason why Italy watched Messi lifting the World Cup trophy from their living room’s sofa beds.

But there was enough for banning the man from ever taking a penalty again with Italy, especially in the same stadium where he had missed the second one, with just one minute to go in a match that could have earned Roberto Mancini’s boys their spot among the World Cup Fabulous 32.

But no, Jorginho had to take it. In a presser ahead of the game with North Macedonia, the now Arsenal man claimed he would be comfortable with trying to bury the spot if the Azzurri were allowed a penalty. Coach Luciano Spalletti backed him up, labeling Jorginho one of the most experienced elements in the roster.

And so, the writing was on the wall and Jorginho was meant to have his golden chance to chase away the ghosts of his penalty drama. It was just there for him to grab.

Now, what did he do with that? Jorginho has this very peculiar way of taking penalties, a short run up followed by a somewhat weak shot. It works when you manage to send the goalkeeper the wrong way, but it requires confidence and a calm mind. Using this technique in a high intensity game, when there is much at stake, might not be the greatest idea.

After all, not everybody is a Francesco Totti or an Andrea Pirlo, who could be cool as a cucumber as they buried the spot with a Panenka in a Euro knockout stage game.

Jorginho’s conversion attempt didn’t work against Switzerland when the clock was ticking, and Italy desperately needed one goal. It didn’t work last night either, when the Italian Brazilian was facing his past and trying to pay his dues to destiny, with Italy up only 1-0 in a game that they did need to win.

If possible, last night’s penalty was the worst of all, starting with a quivering run and followed by a feeble, not angled shot that landed right in Stole Dimitrievski’s hands. The North Macedonian goalkeeper could not believe his eyes.

Logic would have suggested to just fire the ball into the back of the net, using all the strength you have and the willingness to leave the past behind you. Jorginho preferred to stay true to his way of taking penalties and while credit must be given to him for his coherence, one cannot but evidence how the plan spectacularly backfired once again.

No, there will be no kids taught how to take a penalty the “Jorginho way” in football academies.

Luckily for him, Federico Chiesa soon went into berserk mode and scored twice in the space of a few minutes to build a three-goal cushion for the Azzurri. Jorginho’s umpteenth penalty miss was thus quickly forgotten. But not forgiven.

The man had some courage, we’ll give him that. But you know what they say, right? “To err is human, but to persist is diabolical.

Please DO NOT let him take a penalty anymore.

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