Any Manchester City fan will tell you that Gabriel Jesus is the real deal.
Ever since Brazil’s No 9 arrived at the Etihad in January, he’s been scoring for fun and, more recently, has formed a deadly partnership with the man he hopes to eventually succeed at City: Sergio Aguero.
But Jesus, who signed for the club from Palmeiras last summer before being loaned back to the Brazilian side, didn’t have it easy growing up.
Although he’s constantly smiling and dancing at City, heartache struck Jesus’s family before the 20-year-old was even born. His father left his pregnant mother for another woman and died shortly afterwards, leaving his four children without a dad.
Growing up without a father affected Jesus, who sometimes grew jealous of other children with their fathers.
He is quoted in The Sun as saying: “When I saw kids with their fathers, I felt quite jealous. But my mother looked after us, she was always my mother and my father.”
Jesus lived with his beloved mother and older brothers, Caique and Felipe, but would soon be joined by his sister Emanuele Fernanda, whose husband was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident.
Jesus also had to overcome the death of a close friend when he was just a teenager. His Palmeiras team-mate, Tininho, was shot dead at just 16 years old.
Gabriel said: “I remember him a lot. It sends shivers through me just to think of it.
“It’s difficult. But I know that God saved a very good place for him up there.”
Academy coach Bruno Petri shed some light on how close the duo had been.
Petri said: “A lot of people said that Tininho would get close to Gabriel, who had a lot of affection for him.
“They came from a similar area, they identified with each other, and always supported each other.”
According to Jesus’s mother, Vera, her son persevered through it all with a dogged determination to play football. As a youngster he was picked up by a Sao Paulo club called Pequeninos do Meio Ambiente.
Vera said: “The two older ones gave up with time. Gabriel never gave up.
“It was difficult. I got up at 6am to go to work and I called Gabriel. I couldn’t take him, he went with his mates.
“A load of kids together. They took the bus and after that walked along a track for 40 minutes.”
Before long, Palmeiras came knocking for the wonderkid, and from there he tore it up. He’s now learning from the best for club and country – with players like Neymar and Thiago Silva leading the way for Brazil, while Kevin de Bruyne and Aguero show him the ropes at City.
He even won his first pieces of silverware as a teenager. While he was back on loan with Palmeiras, having joined City in a £28million deal, he helped the club win their first league title in 22 years. He even won a gold medal at the Olympics when helping Brazil to winning at the 2016 Olympics. It was made even sweeter for Jesus that it was won on home soil in Rio de Janeiro.
In Brazil, there was outcry that a player who, at just 19, and was already leading the line ahead of Firmino alongside Neymar and Coutinho was allowed to leave for (relatively speaking) such a paltry sum. And you’ve got to agree, Jesus isn’t just an absurdly talented player, he’s also as tough as they come.