- Gabriel Jesus has revealed his childhood obsession with the Champions League
- The Brazilian striker said he would miss school as a child just to watch matches
- Jesus said Arsenal have played the theme music ahead of the much-anticipated return
- Listen to the latest episode of the Mail Sport podcast It all starts!
Speaking of the seven-year itch, for Arsenal fans it has been seven years of anticipation since they last played in the Champions League group stages.
Patience has been a virtue. Take the bitterness that led to the departure of Arsène Wenger, or the struggle under Unai Emery.
Yet they are now – according to some bookmakers – fourth favorites to win Europe’s biggest competition with good feelings around these parts.
For Gabriel Jesus, who has scored 20 goals in 38 Champions League appearances, just the theme music played by teammates in the gym on Monday brought back memories of sleeping away from school to watch Europe’s best.
“Some were joking in the gym and turned on the music,” he said on Wednesday evening before the match against PSV Eindhoven. ‘A club like Arsenal can’t stay without playing in that league, so everyone is very happy.
Gabriel Jesus has admitted that he used to only watch Champions League matches
He showed how excitement is building among Arsenal’s players ahead of their first Champions League match in seven years against PSV
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“I remember the times I would miss school to watch and my mom (would be crazy).
“It starts there, you know. It was different to hear the music, to see the best clubs. It’s a different game, a different competition. The clubs have more quality, that makes this special.’
After blossoming in Europe while playing for Manchester City, Jesus knows how much this week means and is confident in his team’s chances of winning the tournament.
“Of course (we believe we can win it),” he said. ‘We go to all competitions to win and the Champions League is the same.
Jesus has experience of playing in the league with Man City and believes they can win it
‘If we think the opposite, we are wrong because we play for Arsenal. We must believe.’
For Mikel Arteta, their return caps a journey of looking from the outside in for contenders, boosted by a winnable group that also includes Lens and Sevilla.
“Every time I looked at it and we weren’t there, I felt it,” said the Arsenal manager.
“You put pressure on yourself, you know? This club has to win the Champions League and if I have this job I have the responsibility to try to take the club to the biggest tournaments and then fight for that.
“It was a process, but we are here and now we have to make the best of it.”