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Julio Cesar Exclusive: Inter Milan Legend On Seeing Jose Mourinho Cry, Almost Joining Arsenal And Having Germany Flashbacks

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Julio Cesar Exclusive: Inter Milan Legend On Seeing Jose Mourinho Cry, Almost Joining Arsenal And Having Germany Flashbacks

When Jose Mourinho broke down in tears at the end of Roma's Europa Conference League semi-final victory over Leicester, it stunned many in football – including his former Inter Milan goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

"I have never seen him like that. Seeing Mourinho cry in that way was amazing," Cesar told SPORTbible, speaking on behalf of Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

"Most fans of football, when we talk about Mourinho, we think of him as a funny guy, a super professional coach. But the opportunity to know this other side of Mourinho is amazing.

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"Particularly because I am so emotional as well. My whole life, my whole career I was never shy to show people how emotional I am.

"So when I saw him after the game crying, I think it was nice for the fans to know a little bit more about the other side of Mourinho."

Cesar, of course, knows Mourinho well, having played under the Portuguese during his unforgettable spell in charge of the Nerazzurri.

In the 2009-10 season, Mourinho masterminded Inter's talented group of misfits to a historic Treble, which remains to this day a unique achievement in Italian football.

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Mourinho could add yet more silverware to his collection on Wednesday night when Roma take on Feyenoord in the Europa Conference League final in Tirana, and Cesar still views the self-anointed 'Special One' as one of the game's great managers.

Cesar played under Mourinho during their time together at Inter (Image: PA)
Cesar played under Mourinho during their time together at Inter (Image: PA)

"For me, Mourinho will go down as one of the best coaches in football," added Cesar.

"His mentality, his philosophy, his methodology to work and train players… he will take a normal player and make him believe that he is the best in the world. It is amazing."

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Assisted by Walter Samuel, Cristian Chivu and his Brazilian compatriots Maicon and Lucio, Cesar conceded just 45 goals in his 54 appearances in all competitions during Inter's Treble-winning campaign.

He would go on to achieve legendary status at the club, making 298 appearances for Inter over the course of seven successful seasons before eventually leaving San Siro in 2012.

The Italian club, desperate to reduce their wage bill at the time, asked the Brazilian to take a pay cut which prompted him to look for opportunities elsewhere.

Cesar was part of Inter's historic Treble-winning side of the 2009-10 season (Image: PA)
Cesar was part of Inter's historic Treble-winning side of the 2009-10 season (Image: PA)
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He would go on to join Queens Park Rangers after being enticed by a lucrative four-year contract at Loftus Road and the promise of an ambitious project, which also convinced the likes of Park Ji-sung, Esteban Granero and later Christopher Samba to make the move to west London.

But his first season in English football would end in huge disappointment, with QPR relegated to the Championship after finishing bottom of the Premier League.

After losing his place in the side to former England international Rob Green the following season, Cesar moved to MLS side Toronto FC on loan in 2014 before joining Benfica in a permanent move that summer.

When asked if he regrets joining QPR, Cesar added: "I don't think so because the Premier League is the best league in the world. I think every football player needs to have this opportunity to play in the Premier League. The atmosphere, the stadiums, the fans. It's perfect.

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The Brazilian left Inter for QPR in 2012 (Image: PA)
The Brazilian left Inter for QPR in 2012 (Image: PA)

"When I decided to move to QPR, financially it was amazing for me – I need to be honest. I didn't have other offers because at that time I was taking a good salary from Inter and nobody wanted to give me what I was getting.

"When I arrived at QPR for this project, there were other big names at the club and I accepted it, because I understood that my time at Inter was done. I enjoyed it a lot because when I decided to move to QPR I thought I would do well in my first season and maybe with my name one of the biggest clubs would sign me.

“At the end of the season, I remember I almost signed with Arsenal but we didn't find a solution. But it was amazing because I had some great games, especially against some of the bigger clubs – Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea.

"I wanted to play the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and the only solution that I found was to choose to go to QPR. I don't regret my choice because I enjoyed it."

Cesar was part of the Brazil side that lost 7-1 to Germany at the 2014 World Cup (Image: PA)
Cesar was part of the Brazil side that lost 7-1 to Germany at the 2014 World Cup (Image: PA)

Cesar would indeed play for Brazil in their home World Cup, retaining his place in the team after helping Luiz Felipe Scolari's side win the Confederations Cup the previous year.

He made himself a hero in their nervy round of 16 match against Chile, producing crucial saves to deny Mauricio Pinilla and Alexis Sanchez in a 3-2 penalty shootout win for Brazil.

In the quarter-finals, they would beat another South American opponent in Colombia, boosting hopes of a sixth World Cup win for the Seleção Canarinho.

But the tournament would end in humiliation for both Brazil and Cesar at the semi-final stage.

A 7-1 annihilation at the hands of eventual champions Germany shocked the host nation. It remains Brazil's heaviest defeat; a record that is unlikely to be broken any time soon.

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Days later, Brazil would lose 3-0 to the Netherlands in the third-place play-off, spelling the end of Cesar's 10-year international career.

But after briefly considering retirement in the wake of the defeat, Cesar instead chose to continue his club football with Benfica and would go on to win three league titles in Portugal before finally hanging up the gloves at his boyhood club Flamengo in 2018.

Looking back on the nadir of his career against Germany, Cesar said: "It was tough of course.

"I remember after the game that I wanted to quit, to stop with football. Because emotionally everyone in that team was not mad… more than mad. The whole world had the opportunity to watch that game and be a part of it.

"It was tough, especially when you’re the goalkeeper! But you need to keep your head up because football is football, sometimes this happens. You need to be strong enough to look forward, to stay positive, because the world doesn't stop at that moment.

Cesar would eventually finish his career with boyhood club Flamengo in 2018 (Image: PA)
Cesar would eventually finish his career with boyhood club Flamengo in 2018 (Image: PA)

"For our fans, our family, it was a terrible moment. Sometimes I have some flashes in my memory about that game. But they are just flashes. People ask me all the time about this game.

"But this is part of my life. It is normal. A couple of years ago I found it difficult to talk about it but now I'm okay. I've passed through.

"I think we need to do that in our life. When life presents you tough moments, you need to look forward and believe in yourself. The world does not stop."

Julio Cesar and Lloyd Griffith featured in Enterprise Rent-A-Car's 'Mission Keeper' series ahead of the 2021/22 UEFA Europa Conference League final. You can view episode three in full here.

Featured Image Credit: PA Images & BT Sport

Topics: Brazil, Inter Milan, QPR, Arsenal, Football, Jose Mourinho, Serie A, Football World Cup, Germany, Spotlight

Rory O'Callaghan
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