Mason Mount has reached out to Jorginho, a Chelsea teammate, to give his support following Italy’s World Cup disaster.
Last summer, Mount reported that the Italian midfielder was king of the wind-up merchants at Stamford Bridge in the build-up to England’s Euro final game with the Azzurri. One of his pranks is to use a machine to heat up the studs on his boots and press them against exposed flesh.
Following Italy’s unexpected play-off exit at the hands of North Macedonia on Thursday night, Mount says there was no temptation to give Jorginho a taste of his own medicine.
Mount said: “I always mention that Jorgy is the joker in the group.“ But when it comes to big games against us, there is nothing but respect between us all. When you’re at that level and you’re playing in finals, football is on the line and there is passion that goes into the game.
“The hunger to win for your country means so much, so there would never be a joke about it afterwards. It’s all about respect. If you look at how far both teams (England and Italy) had to come to get that opportunity in the final, it was a massive amount of work.
“So, no, I won’t be giving him jokes or stick about what’s happened with Italy. It’s hard for me to see a player I have played with for the last three years go through something like that.
“You know how much hard work it takes to get into that position, so to just fall short is so disappointing. I actually sent him a little message and said ‘keep your head up, you’ve had an amazing season and hopefully we can go on this season to win some more things together’.”
Jorginho admitted after Italy’s stunning defeat to North Macedonia that he felt guilty for the country’s failure to qualify for the World Cup since he missed penalties in both group-stage draws against Switzerland.
“It hurts when I think about it, because I do still think about it and it will haunt me for the rest of my life,” he told RAI Sport.
“Stepping up there twice and not being able to help your team and your country is something that I will carry with me forever, and it weighs on me. People say we need to lift our heads and carry on, but it’s tough.”