Sunday, January 17, 2021

Beyond the backline: Jorge Ortiz, marrying flair with grit

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Goa, January 05, 2021.

There are only a few players that can be labelled as being ‘worth the price for admission’. Of course, the global COVID-19 pandemic has meant for football games being played without any in-house attendance.

The phrase though still works. You can modify it to something like ‘worth turning the television on for’. You get the sense of it all.

Jorge Ortiz is exactly that kind of a player.

His unpredictability, directness and distinctiveness of play are some of the reasons that have the FC Goa faithful pinning their hopes of a second consecutive league title.

“I have known Jorge for a long time. I knew that in this league he was going to stand out,” beams a confident Edu Bedia.

“He has a lot of energy and speed. And skills to go with it”.

What you see about Ortiz is what you get. The excitement that he brings forth on common viewing is backed up in numbers as well.

The leader in the league in terms of shots on goal, dribbles (attempted and successful) and crosses into the box, the Spaniard ranks amongst the highest in virtually all attacking stats and a vital reason why the FC Goa fans had their hopes up despite an inconsistent start.

Ortiz though wants praise if it comes as part of the bigger scheme of things.

“It is not easy by any means (to get gaudy stats to bode is the ISL) and these numbers not only speak about me but also the entire team. It speaks of the work that all the team members do,” remarked Ortiz whilst speaking on his fabulous first season.

“I think I came here at a very good time in my career and to a team whose style of play makes me enjoy taking to the field.”

The grit


Head Coach Juan Ferrando has been equally impressed with his fellow Spaniard’s performance. His praise, however, is not limited to his contributions is attack.

“I believe he (Jorge) stands out for his capacity for defensive work and putting pressure on the opposing team high up the pitch. He works really hard for the team,” opined Juan Ferrando. “The assists and goals will stand out for sure, but it’s the completeness of the player that you have to really admire.”

The 23rd of December saw FC Goa take on Jamshedpur FC in a vital game for the Gaurs. The side’s initial slump this season was seemingly overcome with back-to-back wins over Odisha and Kerala. That feeling of getting back on track would soon dissipate with two losses on the trot at the hands of ATK Mohun Bagan and Chennaiyin.

And then came Jamshedpur. Unbeaten in their previous 5 coming into the game, Owen Coyle’s side struck first to really put the gun to the Gaurs’ heads. FC Goa responded in the firmest of fashions- with an equaliser in the second half before a winner in injury time.

Whilst Igor Angulo got the adulation for his brace and the eventual winner, what would have delighted the keen observer was Ortiz’s grit right at the far end of the game. He showed real grit and to earn his side a corner – from which Goa would score the eventual winner.

“That was an important moment for us. He has put up good performances in all the games, but if you are asking me for concrete moments, I would say one of them is the determination he showed to win a corner in the 95th minute when playing against Jamshedpur,” remarked Ferrando.

“Two other moments which also stick out are the run against ATK Mohun Bagan and his goal against Chennaiyin. 

“I am very happy for Jorge. He is a very good player and is showing what he can do on the pitch. In football, there always are details where you can improve technically and tactically and I have full trust he will get even better as the season goes on.

“As a player, he does his best and works hard in every single training session. He is an example for everyone because he shows everyone can keep improving day by day.”

The 28-year-old is arguably the best embodiment of FC Goa’s never-say-die attitude. An all-action midfielder, he is one peg that can be plugged into holes of all sorts in the Gaur’s frontline.

“Jorge comes from playing in Spain, one of the most competitive leagues in football. There, if you don’t defend and work for the team, you don’t play,” remarked Edu on Ortiz’s work rate. “I am not at all surprised with his play so far.”

After causing a real menace on both wings, recent times have seen his playing time coming more centrally with Juan Ferrando looking to up the tempo to transition from defence to attack.  

“On the field, I try to give him the ball as quickly as possible when we are in transition so he has space to exploit,” Bedia added further. “It’s in those situations that he can do a lot of damage to the opponent.”

It’s those situations that set the pulse racing. A glimpse of Jorge Ortiz running at full tilt at the opposition is akin to waiting for the pizza at your favourite Pizzeria. You are already all in, expecting nothing but the best.

A little cut back inside or a knock on ahead to beat the defender. A swift turn or space enough to smack in a timely cross – with Ortiz on the ball, the FC Goa faithful not only have hope for the best but a belief that good things will come to them – time and again.

“I believe that he has just scratched the surface of his potential,” feels Bedia. “When he knows more about the league and the teams, he will move on to the next gear.”

Now that’s a gear we will be waiting for!

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