ROME, Italy (Reuters) – Italy midfielder Jorginho said team glory is more important than any push to win a surprise Ballon d’Or award for the best player in world football after a team mate said he deserved it.
Speaking after Italy reached the Euro 2020 quarter finals with a 2-1 victory over Austria on Saturday, forward Lorenzo Insigne highlighted the 29-year-old Jorginho’s importance to the Azzurri, adamant he should be considered for the accolade.
But ahead of Italy’s last-eight clash with Belgium in Munich on Friday, Jorginho, who was at the heart of the Chelsea team that won the Champions League last month, insisted no such personal focus comes into his mind.
“I don’t think about it,” he said at Italy’s training base on Wednesday, when asked about the Ballon d’Or. “Everything that is happening is the consequence of hard work.
“My priority is the group and celebrating together with my team mates and friends. This is more beautiful than celebrating alone,” he added at a news conference.
Italy go into the clash with Belgium facing their first real test of the tournament so far, up against the top-ranking national team according to FIFA.
While Roberto Mancini’s side have impressed so far in the European Championships, stretching their record unbeaten run to 31 matches, Jorginho is wary of how tough Friday will be.
“We are aware there isn’t room for mistakes. It would be wrong to think we have already achieved something important,” he said.
“We need to work more and more. We are on the right path, we need to grit our teeth and we are doing it. We must respect the first team in the ranking, but everybody has weak points.”
(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)