APPIANO GENTILE – Three
hundred matches for Julio Cesar. A huge number. And that’s the number
the Nerazzurri keeper will make if he features in tomorrow’s
derby. A huge match.
The derby is always huge,
as Julio Cesar explained to Inter
Channel‘s Roberto Scarpini during his interview for ‘A tu per tu’.
"Yeah, it’s a nice number
to reach, though I’m obviously still miles away from Zanetti…" smiled
Julio. "But I’m glad it might come in the derby – a game in
itself, a whole ‘season’ in itself. Three hundred appearances and a special
match: all we need now is a win to be able to really celebrate!"
Having mentioned Zanetti,
and before going into detail about his own 300 matches, the Brazilian
shotstopper couldn’t help but underline his admiration for the
Inter skipper: "He’s very lucky from a physical point of view;
God gave him an incredible body and that’s helped him achieve all
those records. But he’s also an amazing professional and a marvellous
example. Hats off to him."
Julio Cesar then spoke about his own time at Inter:
"So much has happened in these 300 games. There have been good moments and bad
moments, but I think in my case I can say there have been more good ones. If I had to choose my three most unforgettable moments? The first one has to be my debut, which came in Ukraine against Shakhtar Donetsk.
That’s were this journey began. The second is that save I made against Messi. That was like a goal for me, an overhead kick or a crafty lob… Yeah,
that was my lob. Then of course it has to be the final in Madrid,
where I only had two saves to make but one of them was crucial. Mourinho told me straight away that it was a key save and it was nice to hear those words." Julio Cesar then paused and smiled, before asking Scarpini, "Can I
have five instead of three?
Because I could never forget the 2007 Scudetto: I’d spent four years
in Brazil with Flamengo fighting to stay up and one year when we
finished mid-table, so it felt brilliant to
win a league title. I also remember saving a penalty – that
one against Empoli. If I hadn’t saved it we would have drawn,
but instead we went on to win. And if we hadn’t won that game then Roma – who
were second – would have been breathing right down our necks."
From memory lane to the
present day, because there’s a derby to play tomorrow and the derby is a whole world in itself: "There are no favourites or underdogs in a derby. A derby is a
derby, a special game, a championship apart. It wouldn’t matter
if both teams were at the bottom of the table, nobody wants to lose the
derby. We sure don’t want to lose it, not for us, not for our fans.
We feel a sense of responsibility towards our fans and that’s another
reason why we’re determined to win: so that even though this season
hasn’t been fantastic – actually it’s been horrible – the fans have
something to be happy about. And that includes my son, Cauet. He’s
learnt to cope much better with defeats than he used to, but
Inter-Milan is always Inter-Milan; no one wants to lose it and he
certainly doesn’t. All you want is to win, not even draw."
Julio Cesar is focused on
tomorrow’s match but he also had a few words to say about the defeat in Parma. "The
fans might think Lucio is to blame for us losing but it’s not true.
If we do miss out on third place it won’t be because of him –
what happened can happen to anyone, myself included. If we do
miss out then we’ll have lost it in our first match against Novara and all
the other games we messed up this year, a season when we’ve been poor generally speaking. We’ve been trying and we’ll keep trying because
mathematically we’re still in with a chance, and even if it’s only a small
chance we must keep chasing that small chance. But I did want to clear up this thing about Lucio because he’s not only my team-mate, he’s a
world-class player who has won everything in his career. And it’s not his fault; Inter as a whole have had a terrible season. We’ve done so well in
the past but unfortunately it’s been a different story this year. Third place is
even more difficult now but we hope to end the year as well as
possible and then we’ll concentrate on next season, which I’m sure will
be very different from this year. I can’t wait to start again, a bit
like when you lose a game on the Playstation, you want to start
again straight away. We know how good we are. On a personal level I
want to prove I can still have my say and my team-mates want to do
the same. Next year we’ll have lots of things to play for:
prestige, pride and the Scudetto too."
From one keeper to
another, Julio Cesar was asked if he has a message for Gianluigi
Buffon after the Bianconeri keeper’s mistake in the last match: "I
think he’s having a fantastic season, and not only him but the whole
team. You have to give Juve credit for what they’ve achieved this
term – they haven’t lost a single game. There’s nothing to say to
Buffon: he’s top-class and he knows how to deal with these things by
himself. He’s won everything and after that mistake all the fans
applauded him, they all picked him up, the fans, the coach and his
team-mates. Everyone knows what a player he is and what he gives you not only on the pitch but in the dressing room too. There’s
nothing to say, all I know is that when we make mistakes like that
we want the next game to come as quickly as possible because we want
to show who we really are. This time it’s happened to him but it’s
happened to me plenty of times before, just as it’s happened to loads of
keepers that people consider among the world’s best – Casillas
comes to mind. And it’s in times like these that you see what you’re
made of: a great footballer mustn’t let himself get down, he just has to keep
showing what he’s capable of."