TORONTO – Yet another big-name player has been added to Toronto FC’s now star-studded squad with the formal announcement Friday of the much-rumored acquisition of Brazilian international goalkeeper Júlio César.
Considering that TFC ‘keeper Joe Bendik was acclaimed as one of the club’s top performers last season, the team’s decision to reinforce at that position has actually come as something of a surprise to many. But according to Reds general manager Tim Bezbatchenko, the decision to bring in a player of Júlio César’s caliber was simply a case of being an opportunity the club could not pass up.
“This was not about addressing a need,” Bezbatchenko said at a press conference on Friday. “It is about continuing to add to our strong stable of goalkeepers that we already have at our club. We believe in Joe. We gave him a new contract, so Joe knows that we are committed to him.”
“But we had an opportunity to add a world-class goalkeeper who is going to be playing at the World Cup in Brazil and who is a champion,” Bezbatchenko added. “If we are trying to create a winning culture here, who better to have than one of the most winning ‘keepers in the world. Few 'keepers can compare to what Júlio has done in terms of winning.”
Bezbatchenko started the proceedings Friday by running off just a partial list of the accomplishments that the 34-year-old will bring with him to Toronto during his season-long loan.
“Ten trophies at Flamengo, Five Scudetti, a Champions League title in 2010 and a FIFA Club World Cup,” Bezbatchenko said. “He has also been named Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year two times and was a Ballon d'Or nominee with Inter Milan. With Brazil he has won two Confederations Cups and a Copa América title, and he was named to the Brazil squad for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and is expected to be in Brazil this summer.”
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“All these accomplishments show that he is a true champion,” he added. “And any time you have a chance to bring on someone with his type of pedigree, you take it.”
TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen, who was a teammate of Júlio César’s during his playing days with Queens Park Rangers, was quick to parrot his general manager’s assertation that Toronto FC simply had to grab the opportunity to add a special player to the team’s roster.
“There probably won’t be another chance in the near future to get a current Brazil national team player a few months out before a World Cup in Brazil,” Nelsen said. “I think it is such a fantastic opportunity for our fans, our city and for the MLS as a whole.”