Gabriel Jesus Is a Star Now, but Three Years Ago, He Was Painting Roads for Brazil’s World Cup

Lead Photo: Photo is licensed under the CC BY 2.0 license.
Photo is licensed under the CC BY 2.0 license.
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Three years ago, ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, then-17-year-old Gabriel Jesus could be found barefoot, painting the streets of São Paulo in a show of national soccer pride. Of course, Jesus, now 20 years old, soon blew up on the international stage, moving to England to play for Manchester City, where he paints scoreboards on the regular for one of the Premier League’s biggest clubs.

It’s been a long road for Man City’s young superstar striker. At the time of the photo in 2014, Jesus was on the books of the Palmeiras U17 side, making a minuscule £3,500 ($4,500 USD) per year. Fast-forward three years, and the 20-year-old is looking ahead to playing in the next World Cup for his home nation, while making about £75,000-a-week ($96,500 USD) as City’s next great star. The Premier League club bought Jesus last summer for a reported fee of 33 million euros (roughly $37 million USD).

In the three years since the photo was taken, Jesus has helped Brazil win Olympic Gold, and has found a way to make his mark in the Premier League, scoring 7 goals in 10 league appearances before an injury cut his debut season short.

In images shared on Jesus’s Twitter account yesterday, a younger version of himself equipped with a few friends, a bucket of paint, and a brush can be seen coloring the streets around them bright blue and yellow. Of course, Brazil would get demolished 7-1 at home in the semi final by eventual champions Germany, but the World Cup fever was present in budding players like the soon-to-be Manchester City striker.

That’s why, four years and a tournament cycle later, Jesus could see himself traveling to Russia to don the Seleção’s yellow jersey, in an attempt to avenge Brazil’s humiliating (and meme-worthy) loss and, in the process, bring home the country’s sixth World Cup trophy.