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Former national coach Artur Jorge is dead

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Former national coach Artur Jorge is dead

The Portuguese had success as a coach with FC Porto and Paris Saint-Germain, but he remained misunderstood in Switzerland. His life was full of sadness.

He often remained misunderstood: Artur Jorge (right) in 1996 next to Ciriaco Sforza.

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In the last few months, Artur Jorge only received his closest friends at his home. Others respected his desire for discretion and distance. A few years ago, Jorge was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and therefore had to change his apartment in Lisbon. He could no longer climb stairs. Even long-time companions stayed outside the door.

The last years of the former footballer and football coach Artur Jorge were marked by seclusion and suffering. “He had success in football, but a life full of sadness,” says José Martins Morim, one of his Portuguese companions. Jorge lost his first wife to cancer, his daughter Francisca in 2013 at just 22 years old to a brain tumor and his brother, who drowned his life’s defeats in alcohol.

As a striker, Artur Jorge scored over 200 goals, most of them for FC Porto, the club of his heart, and for Benfica Lisbon. He was committed to the offensive and lived in it the counterpoint of his reserved character. Jorge was the enigmatic one, the misunderstood one with the short words. Verbally, he never became a scorer, at least not in public.

He listened to classical music instead of the television commentary

Jorge grew up in Porto, studied in Coimbra and lived in Lisbon after his career. He was considered an intellectual who was interested in books, art and classical music. José Martins Morim tells the legend that Jorge turned off the television commentary while watching football and listened to music instead. Football not as chatter, but as a symphony.

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As a coach, Jorge became Portuguese champions with FC Porto in the 1980s and won the championship cup, now called the Champions League, against FC Bayern Munich (2-1) in 1987. The equalizer by Algerian Rabah Madjer, who put the ball into the goal with a heel, is legendary.

May 27, 1987 in Vienna: Rabah Madjer scores the 1-1 equalizer for FC Porto in the Master Cup final against Bayern Munich.

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Jorge was the last coach to become French champions with Paris Saint-Germain in 1994, before Qatar pushed forward the PSG project in 2011. He had something to show, and so the path led him to Switzerland in 1996. The Briton Roy Hodgson, with whom the Swiss footballers qualified for the 1994 World Cup in the USA and for the Euro 1996 in England, wanted to move to Serie A to Inter Milan at the beginning of 1996. Hodgson was aiming for the dual mandate – Inter here, Switzerland there.

But the Swiss Football Association (SFV) stood in the way. Hodgson, frightened, moved to Italy and today describes this step as “a big mistake”. The SFV soon pulled Jorge out of the hat. Jorge, who didn’t understand why people in Switzerland knew so little about what had happened to him in Porto and Paris.

Jorge had to endure a fierce media campaign

The run-up to Euro 1996 was a low point. When Jorge removed the crowd favorites Alain Sutter and Adrian Knup from the European Championship squad without further ado and without comment, the selection got into a vortex from which they were unable to free themselves for weeks.

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Unmistakable protests: The fans expressed their displeasure in the lost test match (1:2) against the Czech Republic in Basel immediately before the Euro 1996.

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The “Blick” developed a media campaign against Jorge that could not be surpassed in its destructiveness. The newspaper worked on the intuitive level, rose to the people’s voice and headlined: “Now he’s crazy, Jorge.” The paper wrote for days about “Jorge madness”. The pictures didn’t zoom in on his head, but rather on his snout. A few months earlier, Jorge had undergone surgery for a brain tumor.

The last test match in Basel against the Czech Republic (1:2) turned into a gauntlet, in which the people’s anger turned against Jorge. Some people banged on the windows of the media room. Jorge had to flee and leave the St. Jakob Stadium through a side exit. The then sports director of the NZZ wrote that as a Swiss you should be “ashamed”.

Jorge remained an enigma throughout his life

In terms of content, Jorge’s decision against Sutter and Knup was understandable, but formally it revealed flaws. That’s what his assistant coach at the time, Hans-Peter Zaugg, said afterwards. After the 1-1 draw against England, the 0-2 draw against the Netherlands and the 0-1 draw against Scotland, the European Championship ended early for Switzerland. And Jorge is no longer the Swiss national coach.

Jorge remained an enigma for many. Accessible in a familiar circle, interested, educated, humorous too, not a chatterbox, but also suspicious, closed and secretive as soon as the group got larger.

Not a word too many. Actually not one for the chatty and superficial football environment. Artur Jorge died on Thursday in Lisbon at the age of 78 after a long period of Parkinson’s disease.

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