Juan Jesus has opened up on his five-year tenure at Roma after becoming a free agent, claiming he still felt he had something to offer when Paulo Fonseca was overlooking him.
Jesus joined Roma from Inter in 2016, but was rarely a regular starter. He showed signs of improvement after his arrival, culminating in his 2018 masterclass against Lionel Messi in the Champions League win over Barcelona, but his gametime decreased dramatically after Fonseca took charge in 2019.
In total, he only played 16 times under Fonseca across the two seasons of the Portuguese coach’s reign.
Jesus became something of a controversial figure for some fans, as he claimed to love the club but did not take the opportunity to leave when they needed to reduce the wage bill.
However, upon his release from the club, the defender has insisted he always gave his all.
“I always showed what came from my heart,” he said in a lengthy conversation with Rete Sport. “Those who know me, know that I am a serious, sincere guy and I always try to convey it.
“I spent five wonderful years at Roma. My son was born in Rome, my bond with the city goes beyond the team. It displeases me a lot to leave Roma, but football is like this. I will always be a Roma fan.
“In the five years I lived in Rome, I always lived them to the fullest as a professional. I played a lot in the first three years and then very little in the last two seasons.
“I had the chance to leave, but for my family, to avoid moving my children who would have had to change school, I chose to stay.
“I thought I could help Roma, I always trained well, I respected all the decisions. I wouldn’t change anything, because I believe that everything happens for a reason.
“I have grown as a man, I have experienced strange moments, but I still feel I have improved.”Embed from Getty Images
Jesus revealed he had grown close to Roma’s two most-appeared players of all time, his former teammates Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi, describing the latter as a brother.
Asked who he would take with him in his heart, he said: “Everyone I have met in these five years, because everyone has been a part of my life. Many have helped me in good times and bad times.
“Certainly I hear from many guys: Totti, De Rossi. Daniele, for me, is like a brother. We bonded a lot and they allowed me to grow.”
Someone Jesus did not enjoy as good a relationship with, though, was Fonseca.
The now ex-coach often overlooked the Brazilian, despite other options in defence being limited due to injuries.
Jesus remains perplexed as to why Fonseca fielded him so infrequently, insisting he was always at the disposition of the coach.
“If we go to see the games I played, I always did my job,” he vowed. “I was always professional.
“Honestly, I don’t know why he never considered me.
“I was always available, I always trained. Even when I played for five minutes, I always gave my best.
“If I didn’t play more, it wasn’t dependent on my condition. I was always available, except for those 20 days in March that I had Covid.”Embed from Getty Images
With his gametime down, though, Jesus still refused the opportunity to leave. Clarifying that decision for one last time, he concluded: “I understand the thoughts of many people. Many have asked me.
“I thought I had something to offer to the team. I always tried to put the coach in difficulty.
“Many think only of salaries. I have been playing football for 14 years, I ran after my dreams, I got here thanks to the many people who helped me but also on my own merits.
“I thought a lot about my family. My son is very small; it is difficult for him to imagine a placement elsewhere. I reflected a lot on these situations.
“I honestly harboured hopes of being able to play, to prove my value, to make it understood that I could still be up to it. I always trained at 100%.
“Overall, my balance at Roma is positive. I had a fantastic coach like [Luciano] Spalletti, who said: ‘It is not so much what you win, but the person that you are’.
“What I leave to my family is not what I win, but what I am.”