Brazilian national team head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has confirmed that veteran goalkeeper Júlio César will be joining Toronto FC, and that he will join the Seleção for the team’s international friendly against South Africa next month as the team’s incumbent starter for the World Cup.
Scolari and Brazilian national team technical director Carlos Albert Parreria held a press conference on Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro to discuss the March 5 match in Johannesburg and were asked about the future of the 34-year-old Júlio César, who is expected to join TFC on loan before he starts in his second consecutive World Cup for Brazil.
"Júlio has been called up, and he must report to his new club, Toronto,” Scolari said. “He must finalize all the legal documentation and will be in excellent condition. He does not have any [health] problems.”
Júlio César was first linked to Toronto FC last week and his advisors confirmed the move on Sunday, but there has been no official comment from Toronto FC. The club did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
The veteran goalkeeper has been with English second-division side Queens Park Rangers since August 2012, but has recently fallen out of favor with the club and has not appeared for the team since a 4-0 FA Cup loss to Everton on Jan. 4.
Júlio César spent eight years with and appeared in more than 300 matches across all competitions for storied Serie A side Inter Milan, where he won the 2009-10 UEFA Champions League and was named the federation’s best goalkeeper.
He becomes the third player acquired this offseason by Toronto who is expected to feature in the World Cup, joining English international Jermain Defoe and US national team midfielder Michael Bradley.
"[MLS] is not one of the best in the world technically, but without a doubt it has improved a lot with the arriving of big stars arriving and something very important, it is highly competitive,” Pareirra said. “It was very important for us that Júlio César moved to a very competitive league.”
Joe Bendik, who started 33 matches in goal for Toronto FC last season and was the incumbent starter before the Júlio César rumors began, sent out a revealing tweet on his personal Twitter account last week that indicated he could be in for a change in 2014.
“A hit to my pride today but luckily I've got [expletive] tons of it!” Bendik tweeted. “Going to take in everything I can from a top shelf gk to better my abilities.”
Júlio César has earned 77 caps for the Brazilian national since 2003 and was the starter in net for the team’s run to the Confederations Cup title last summer, posting a tournament-best three shutouts. He was also the starter during the 2010 World Cup, when Brazil reached the quarterfinals.
“If he plays 10 or 15 games before the World Cup, that's good for us,” Scolari said. “He has this quality of having great reflexes, even if he's not been playing for a while.”