The Flamengo (Rio de Janeiro) manager, had a tremendous first season in South America winning the Campeonato Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores. 65 year-old Jesus also saw Flamengo participate in the FIFA Club World Cup for the first time in the club’s history. They defeated Al Hilal SFC (Saudia Arabia) 3–1 in the semi-final, but lost 0–1 to Liverpool in the final.
Jesus tested negative for coronavirus in the days before the decision to travel to Portugal.
Elsewhere Portuguese players and technical staff employed by Chinese clubs have spoken of their experiences.
Vítor Pereira, manager of Chinese club Shanghai SIPG, implores everyone to take the utmost care during these troubled times. In an interview with ‘O Jogo’ he stressed the seriousness with which people in Portugal must treat the crisis. “China is managing to control the deadly virus because it has a lot of respect and a lot of discipline,” he said. “They had a lot of patience, they had to keep themselves at home, the economy stopped. But they stayed at home. It hurts me to see what’s going on in Europe”. He added, “I was terrified when I travelled to China: at Lisbon airport nobody was protected, there was no temperature control - nothing; but I believe it is changing. Here in China they are always measuring the temperature and people wear protective equipment.”
The 49 year-old former FC Porto manager, who won the Primeira Liga in 2012 and again the following year, added, “In China everyone gets quarantined and if anyone breaks the rules, they’re severely punished. I advise: stop, stay at home with the family. Only one person should go shopping and with protection. When they return, disinfect their shoes, put your clothes in the wash and take a shower. Stop walking, going running, going into elevators in busy buildings and coming into contact with people”.
Portuguese coach Hélder Silva, who works with the Chinese national team Under14 and Under 15 sides, is based in the southern coastal province of Guangdong. “We don’t even know how we put up with the isolation,” Silva says of the enforced public quarantine which began in January and was lifted for his family to leave the house last week.
A former youth staff member at Crystal Palace FC, Silva is generous in his praise of the authorities for how the situation was handled: “They even provided a shopping service. Staying at home is very important, this is the only way to avoid contagion. There are now more people on the street, but the temperatures continue to be measured and we have to give our address at the entrance of all establishments. Wherever you go, there is security.” Football in China is scheduled to resume, albeit behind closed doors initially, in mid-April as long as the current improvements are sustained. New domestic cases of the disease have stopped, with the remaining infections coming from those entering the country, making the problem far more manageable for authorities.
João Silva has been back in China for almost two weeks, having left the country at the beginning of the year. The Portuguese striker will shortly begin full training with his club Nantong Zhiyun, based in the Jiangsu province on the eastern coast, ahead of hopefully returning to action next month. Nantong Zhiyun are managed by Southampton born Gary White.
Silva, 29, a former Everton and Palermo player, spoke as he anticipates ending a two-week quarantine period enforced on anybody entering the country from abroad. Silva is based in a closed quarter of the club’s training ground, where he exercises via video communication with club coaches to prepare for joining his colleagues on the training ground. “What I can say is that I am doing great here, I am being treated very well,” Silva said early this week. “I feel safe but unfortunately, my family is not here with me. Thankfully I came two weeks ago, because if I came now I might have more difficulties to get to China in terms of flights.”
Silva signed for his current club last August after ending his Feirense contract at the end of last season, scoring two goals in seven games during the closing stages of the East Asian calendar before returning to Portugal in November to spend Christmas with his family.
“I finished the season in November, took my holiday and in January the pre-season started,” he explains. “We had a short break and that was when the great confusion over the virus started. The club sent me home. I came back to Portugal, but now in March the club has called me back because things here are already normalising”.
João Silva, started his football career with Desportivo das Aves, whom he joined at the age of nine. During his first year as a senior player, Silva was one of the top goal-scorers in the Segunda Liga with fourteen in thirty appearances. The exploits attracted the interest of English outfit Everton and Silva joined The Toffees in 2010 at the age of 20. Since then he has played in his native country as well as Bulgaria and Italy.