Goodbye Júlio César

Júlio César worshiping the fans who worship him

Former Seleção and Inter Milan goalkeeper Júlio César has retired from football after playing for his beloved Flamengo one last time on the weekend.

After a long and highly decorated career, in which he won nearly 30 trophies and played 790 professional matches (including 87 games for the Seleção), Júlio César has called it a day. He is hanging up his gloves aged 38. In January this year he signed a three-month deal with Flamengo in order to end his career at the club that he loves and where he began his career. During his career he also played for Inter Milan, Benfica, Queens Park Rangers, Toronto FC and Chievo.

Júlio César must be considered as one of the modern day goalkeeping legends. At his peak he was undoubtedly one of the best in the world. He was nominated for the Ballon d’Or in 2009 and in the 2009/10 season he won the Champions League, Italian Cup and Italian league with Inter Milan. He won five trophies with Flamengo.

The man is a self-confessed ‘collector of emotions’, although things haven’t always gone that smoothly. At club level, he had a disappointing spell at Queens Park Rangers and when on loan at Chievo (at the start of his career in Europe) he didn’t even get a game. At international level he was part of that Brazil side that lost to Germany in the World Cup semi final in 2014. He also made a mistake in the 2010 World Cup, which was one of the reasons Brazil were knocked out by Holland (although the real villain in the eyes of most Brazilians is, and was, Felipe Melo for his red card in that match.)

In an emotional, tearful, interview on Brazilian TV last week, he admitted that the 7 – 1 defeat against Germany still hurts, although he had learnt things from that day. He also discussed the time that he went walkabout (and by walkabout I mean he tried to dribble the entire opposing team) in a match against Fluminense. Unsurprisingly that was labelled stupid by his coach after the game, to which Julio Cesar said to a reporter: “he can say that, but what matters is how I feel inside”. Not the best thing to do, but he now admits that the experience helped him to learn and develop. I’ve got to say, trying to dribble the entire team when you are 4-0 down isn’t the best thing to do, but it is a legendary thing to do. He even played a one-two with a teammate on the half way line!

But the low don’t make the highs feel so good and I get the impression that Júlio César never shied away from anything in his career, or in his life. He made some great saves, including some in the 2004 Copa America final against Argentina, which Brazil won. And he also made this save against Lionel Messi in the Champions League.

It was fitting that he could bow out in style over the weekend, in front of more than 50,000 fans at the Maracanã as Flamengo beat América Mineiro two goals to nil; not only did Julio Cesar make a few important saves, but his team also kept a clean sheet. I’m sure that all Flamengo fans and football fans more generally will wish Júlio César all the best in retirement and thanks for the memories.

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