Benfica reap rewards by showing faith in Jesus

Reuters, LISBON

Sun, May 05, 2013 - Page 19

Jorge Jesus’ unfashionable coaching style and rhetoric may be the butt of jokes in Portugal, but as Benfica grabbed a berth in the Europa League final to continue a memorable season few are questioning his knowledge of the game.

The fiery coach was so agitated during Thursday’s 3-1 semi-final win over Turkish club Fenerbahce that a piece of chewing gum fell out of his mouth as he shouted instructions from the sideline.

Footage of the moment was played out on the social networks on Friday while fans and media lauded the 58-year-old who has guided Benfica to their first European final for 23 years.

“He is the great tactics master. He may not know much about verbs, but he does know about soccer,” wrote aBola sports daily columnist Jose Freitas, referring to Jesus’ occasional grammar mistakes at news conferences.

Jesus brushes off those who mock him and exudes a confidence that has rubbed off on his team since he took over in 2009.

“Portuguese coaches are between 10 and 20 years ahead of all others,” he said recently.

Besides the Europa League final against Chelsea, Benfica are also in the domestic cup final and top the championship with a four-point lead over great rivals Porto.

To the amusement of fans Jesus mispronounced “Amsterdam” on live television as he hailed his team for reaching the May 15 final in the Dutch capital.

“It’s better to say the right things with the wrong words than the wrong things with the right words,” said Manuel Sergio, a sports professor at Lisbon’s Technical University.

“We should look at Jesus as the self-made man that he is. Someone who started from scratch,” Sergio said.