Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar signs loan deal with Toronto FC
Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar Soares, left, waits for the ball during practice on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, in Miami in preparation for an international friendly game against Honduras, set for Saturday, Nov. 16. (AP / El Nuevo Herald, Roberto Koltun)
Dhiren Mahiban, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, February 14, 2014 11:58PM EST
TORONTO -- Julio Cesar is the newest member of Toronto FC.
The Brazilian goalkeeper signed a loan deal with the Major League Soccer club on Friday as he looks to get playing time ahead of this summer's World Cup in his home country.
The 34-year-old Cesar has been relegated to a backup role with second-tier English club Queens Park Rangers and will join Toronto for the start of the 2014 season.
General manger Tim Bezbatchenko would not confirm details of the loan agreement, but it is expected that Cesar will be back with Toronto following the World Cup.
"We (found) an agreement, between me, QPR and my agent," said Cesar. "My agent ... they were talking with them. We just (found) the best agreement between everyone so that's the reason I can sign with (Toronto)."
Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen is a former teammate of Cesar's at QPR and had a big hand in acquiring the goalkeeper.
"I keep in contact with a lot of ex-players and it was out of that an opportunity potentially that could arise that we could bring Julio here," said Nelsen. "As soon as I got a sniff of that, it didn't take long to register how important it would be to have a man like that."
Cesar lost his starting role with QPR to England international Rob Green once the Hoops were relegated from the Premiere League last season and has appeared in just one game for the club this season.
Cesar, who has earned 77 caps for Brazil, won the Copa America in 2004 and the Confederations Cup on two occasions. Before his stint at QPR, he also played at Inter Milan, where he won five Italian league titles.
Additionally, he has won three Coppa Italia titles, the 2010 UEFA Champions League and the 2010 Club World Cup.
As for his first impressions of TFC's training facility in north Toronto, Cesar was amazed.
"The first thing when I arrive here, I asked to visit the training grounds. I need to be honest here, I was impressed," he said. "It's much better than many, many clubs in Europe that I have had the opportunity to know. It's an amazing training ground, you have everything. You can do good work here."
Cesar joins a TFC lineup that has undergone a radical shift this off-season, including the acquisition of England striker Jermain Defoe, American midfielder Michael Bradley, fellow Brazilian Gilberto Oliveira Souza Junior and former MLS MVP Dwayne De Rosario.
Gilberto, 24, just missed out on an opportunity to play with childhood idol, and fellow Brazilian star, Ronaldo, and is looking forward to playing in front of Cesar.
"I'm going to play with another legend and I'm definitely looking forward to that," he said through a translator. "(Cesar's) played with the best strikers in the world ... and I have nothing but things to learn from him."
The signing of Cesar moves fellow goalkeeper Joe Bendik, who had a 6-16-11 record in 2013, to the backup role for the 2014 season.
"I'm only looking at it as a win-win situation. He comes in and I get to learn from a legend," said the 24-year-old Bendik. "I'm going to compete with him every day and off the field, I'll pick his brain for just about any piece of knowledge I can get. Seeing a guy whose played in a couple World Cups, he's won champions league.
"You can only learn so much from him so it's a win-win situation for the club and for myself."
Added Nelson: "When you have the opportunity to ply your trade day-in and day-out beside a man who's obviously done what (Cesar's) done, the age that he is and the experience that he'll be able to give to Joe you can't tell how valuable that is."