Julio Cesar: Toronto loan stint 'excellent preparation' for World Cup

The Brazil No.1 has received criticism for his choice to join TFC on loan ahead of the World Cup, but he said that the experience was a positive one.
When the World Cup kicks off in Brazil next month, all eyes will be on host nation Brazil and its star-studded lineup.

One of the most important of those stars, goalkeeper Julio Cesar, has headed to Brazilian training camp directly from a loan stint with Toronto FC of Major League Soccer, a decision that wasn't without controversy. Critics pointed to MLS' perceived low standard in world soccer as reason to keep the 34-year-old off Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazil side, but the player has been vocal in his disagreement.

"When you receive criticism, you have to learn how to separate what is bad from what is constructive," the 'keeper told reporters in Brazil on Tuesday. "That's what I do when I listen to some journalists criticizing me being here. It's hard to work that inside of you, but the important thing is to take from that what will serve you.

"Before you go out criticizing something, [do] a little research. In the United States, of course you talk about NFL and NBA, but the MLS deserves a lot of respect for what they've been doing as well."

Julio Cesar played a total of seven league matches for TFC before jetting off to his native country for pre-World Cup training camp, winning three games and posting a 1.29 goals against average. He says that the Canadian club gave him the proper opportunity to get sharp ahead of the biggest tournament on the planet.

"It was an excellent preparation," the former Inter Milan shot stopper said. "The club has a great structure. About the technical level, I don't think there's much different when you're a goalkeeper. I'm there to get the balls, and I leave very upset for having suffered many goals.

"For [a] keeper, there's not really a big difference. For other positions, maybe."


Despite leaving Toronto with a losing record, Julio Cesar still credits the club for allowing him to get games in after joining it on loan from English club Queens Park Rangers. While the level of play in MLS may not be the best in the world, he says, it still sufficed for his needs, especially where the training was concerned. 

"Their goalkeeper coach is the best I've ever had," he said of TFC's Stewart Kerr, who played for Scottish giant Celtic in the 90s before getting into coaching. "I'm well prepared, I feel focused and ready."

Even though he felt positive about his time with Toronto, the Brazil No. 1 says he's still not secure in his starting position. This despite assurances from Scolari that he'll be manning the goal when the World Cup starts.

"Being very honest with you, I don't feel like I'm on the starting XI," he said. "Although Felipão shows a lot of trust in me, I'm next to two great keepers (Brazil-based Jefferson and Victor) who have every condition to do the same. When you have three keepers on this level, one takes the other higher."

One thing Julio Cesar won't have to worry about is the Brazuca, the official match ball for the World Cup. He had criticized the ball used in the 2010 World Cup, joining a chorus of players and management that disliked it.

However, he says he's much more comfortable with the Brazuca, the same ball used in Major League Soccer this season.

"I wasn't the only one complaining about the ball in 2010, but other players from other positions and even [Diego] Maradona [were]," Julio Cesar said. "I've been training with the new ball already and that's been helping me. It's a good ball and we had previous contact with it, I think the other players will like it too."