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The fall of the penalty king

The fall of the penalty king

Jorginho was Chelsea’s star penalty taker. But recently he hasn’t been able to convert. What happened to the penalty king?

When Italy international Jorginho arrived at Chelsea in 2018, he’d scored six of his seven penalties in Serie A. 

Most of those had come during the early part of his career, at Hellas Verona. The one he missed was for Napoli, where he only ever took two in Serie A. 

And that trend continued when he moved to the Premier League. Jorginho scored once from the spot during his first campaign at Stamford Bridge and three times in his second. 

He fired in three more penalties under Frank Lampard’s tenure during the early part of the 2020/21 season. But the pair didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye.

“Another thing that’s come out recently is Jorginho has said that Frank Lampard wasn’t ready to be the Chelsea manager…”

Talksport

Jorginho had actually only played 90 minutes on three occasions during Frank Lampard’s final 18 games in charge of Chelsea. 

But that all changed when Thomas Tuchel became manager.

Jorginho immediately became a regular starter and Chelsea won the Champions League. 

“We have a good connection. Because of the trust. We created this connection, he created this connection I’d say like this… with everyone here and we’re always joking around and making jokes!”

Football Daily

In the Premier League, Jorginho just couldn’t stop scoring penalties. He converted a further four times during Thomas Tuchel’s first season.

That summer, Jorginho also played a pivotal role in Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph. He delivered a game-winning spot-kick in the semi-final versus Spain. 

When it came to the final versus England though, Jorginho was one of several players to miss one of the penalties in the shoot-out. Luckily for him, it wasn’t decisive. 

But did it knock him off his game?

***

Jorginho started the next season for Chelsea as he’d ended the previous one. Scoring penalties. 

He even converted two in a Champions League group stage game against Malmo in October, and did it again two months later in a dramatic last-minute win over Leeds. 

In December, he scored two more against Aston Villa. That made it ten penalties scored in 2021. No-one had ever scored more in a calendar year in the Premier League before. 

After the brace versus Leeds, the interviewer tried to ask Jorginho about his technique but players are notoriously cagey about revealing their penalty-taking secrets.

Reporter: “First one, beautiful in the top corner… when you get to take a second in the game, what goes through your mind…do I go the same way, does the goalkeeper think I’ll go the same way…what do you do?”

Jorghino: “I can’t answer that… I just clear my head!”

Reporter: “Did you choose at the moment or did you already decide?”

Jorghino: “I can’t say to you! Haha! Leave me alone about penalties!”

Chelsea Football Club, YouTube Channel

It wasn’t a surprise that Jorginho was reluctant to talk about penalties, because he’d been converting for his club, but not for his country. 

Italy needed to beat Switzerland to make this year’s World Cup. In the first game in September, Jorginho missed a penalty, and the match ended 0-0. 


In November, the two sides played again. Jorginho went up against Switzerland’s keeper Yann Sommer for the second time. He missed. And this time it did matter.

“The final minute of the 90 in Rome. Jorginho from the penalty spot against Sommer. Oh! He’s completely blazed it over!”

Sky Sports

It meant that Italy would have to face a play-off to reach the World Cup in Qatar. First, they would face North Macedonia. 

That didn’t sound too difficult for the reigning European Champions. But then they would have to beat either Portugal or Turkey to secure their place in the World Cup.

North Macedonia hadn’t read the script. They pulled off a shock 1-0 win, denying Italy a place in the tournament. The country hasn’t made a World Cup since it won it in 2006.

Jorginho said that the last-minute penalty miss versus Switzerland would “haunt him forever.”

And unfortunately for him, that seems to be true.

Last month, Chelsea won an 86th minute penalty in a game against West Ham, with the score locked at nil-nil. 

Jorginho stepped up to take it and simply rolled the ball gently towards the goalkeeper. It was described as no more than a back-pass.

“But the penalty, and you get a late penalty and Jorgi has the perfect record… or had a perfect record with us.

When he scores, what he did on a hundred percent level, it looks unbelievably cool and calm and composed. When he misses a penalty, it looks like oh… could he have done better? But it is his style and he is right to stick to it.”

Caught Offside TV

Luckily for Jorginho, Christian Pulisic came to the rescue with a winning goal a few minutes later.

But there are now some doubts creeping in over whether the former penalty king has just misplaced his crown or lost it altogether.

Today’s episode was written by Chloe Beresford and mixed by Imy Harper.