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Julio Cruz: “It is a pride to be able to dress the colors of your nation”

In this exclusive interview, the former player reviews the football milestones that marked his career and how he lives his son Juan Manuel's recent first debut.

Julio Cruz

 By Jorge Barril Distinguished Football 

 Jorge Barril:  Let's say hello to a great scorer. A great scorer who started in  Banfield , which is why I saw him closely apart in my  quore.   He went through  River , debuted, at 20 seconds he scored two goals to Union, as easy as we had a glass of water he makes goals. Then he went to Feyenoord and, hey, this is an important issue we're going to talk to him, because that's what Lucas Pratto did now, isn't it? from River to Feyenoord, obviously different situations, right? because Julio was young and had everything to give and gave it after greatly, Lucas is at the end of the race. But well, it doesn't matter, the fact itself is that the two from River passed to Feyenoord. Then Bologna, Inter, came back to my  quore. Neroazzurro  in my  cuore.  He then played in Lazio, man who has played of course in the  Argentina National Team ; World Cup, Qualifiers. With us Mr. Julio Ricardo Cruz. Julio thanks for the weather, welcome. How are you?

 Julio Cruz:  How is Jorgito, boys? Good afternoon to everyone, and good happy here, trying to talk about football. The truth was needed, beyond the fact that you are already a former football player today, I don't live it already on a court but I always try when you can chat and comment on things you lived and what you could absorb as a player, right?

 Jorge Barril:  I'm going to ask you first about Juan Manuel Cruz who is the  junior bomber . I've seen him in training, he's there for first debut, he's there playing in a Banfield that's on a great level, Julio how is Juanma?

 Julio Cruz:  Juanma is very good thanks to God, as I always say the important thing is that he is okay. He is a boy who is growing up and surely in his time will touch him if God wants to make his debut. At the beginning of last year he was there with Julio Falcioni but was not lucky enough to have entered to make his debut. But well, I always say, he is grateful for the life that football gave him because he lived him first as a son and today he is living him as a professional player, right? It's a very important thing to him, most of all because he always dreamed of playing football since childhood and I always helped him in what I could and obviously you know very well the story that he was earning his space in Banfield and today he's there, right?

 Jorge Barril:  Yes, yes. Absolutely. I like it because it's like seeing Julio Cruz again. You see Juanma on the court and he reminds me when you were playing 95-96. It has physonomically similar movements to yours and embocates it, I'm going to say this because Julio out there is more reserved, but he makes goals, huh? It does, it's easy.

 Julio Cruz:  I sincerely become happy for him. Obviously as a father you don't see him as a professional player but I see him as a son and slowly I'm getting used to this, right? See him on the court, watch him train. He always dreamed about it and today physically, that's what you say, he looks a lot like me and when he touched me at my beginnings in Banfield. It would seem like the story is repeated with the crosses in Banfield, hopefully I can have, as I always say, a path like the one I had to live as a professional player.

“Lucas (Pratto) is a player with a lot of name and a very important career”

 Jorge Barril:  Hopefully, because it was a great road. Before we start talking about your way so rich, so important, I'd like you to tell us what is getting to Feyenoord? Because Lucas Pratto suddenly surprised us all, he left River to play Feyenoord. What is Feyenoord? What can Pratto find in Feyenoord? How was your experience? I don't know, tell us what you think is convenient in this case.

 Julio Cruz:  Look, I'm going to summarize it in two words, right? Because, while Lucas is already a player with a lot of name and a very important career, he made that decision to go to Feyenoord, when Feyenoord is looking for a player who scores goals. Fifteen days ago the people at Feyenoord called me to ask me what I thought about him because he was a player who wanted to borrow for six months. While I always said that the only thing he had today is the age issue because they only need a player who scores goals and well as he has done in River were my positive things so he can go to Feyenoord in Holland. Obviously he is lucky also that he has Senesi, Marcos, who is there who already joined the team very well. You will have to quickly get used to the cold that this is one of the things they play against, because we South American players have a hard time playing with -20° as in fact happens in Holland. It's up to me to play with a lot of cold. But well, I think he goes with all the enthusiasm, with all the desire and I also think he's playing in these 6 months that the club can buy it or more than anything have it for other seasons, right?

 Jorge Barril:  Yes. You always told us an anecdote, we with Juan Cruz already know it, but tell people how you got to Feyenoord.

 Julio Cruz:  Let's see... That, in the presentation, do you tell me? I always say, when I had to go to Feyenoord, it was a very tough decision, you know it very well because I was very young, actually had to go to other places in Italy. I was attracted to the desire to know what it was like to play in Dutch football and I made the decision because Feyenoord also treated me very well from the start, before I arrived. And my presentation was also a little dreamed, I never imagined that I was going to arrive in a helicopter with 60,000 people as is the capacity of the Feyenoord court all waiting for me as the first reinforcement that there was that season. It was one thing... I think after that they started doing it, right? Every player who came, get him down by helicopter. I had to live that experience, didn't I? (laughs).

 Jorge Barril:  What did you feel, a president?

“I got off by helicopter inside the Feyenoord court. Actually, it was very exciting because I didn't expect that. “

 Julio Cruz:  There, at first, I didn't know what was going to happen. They told me I had to go with them, accompany them because imagine that I English little and nothing and Dutch less. I had translators but they said, “No, go with them that they're going to take you to the airport,” but I didn't understand what they wanted to do. Well, then when I got on the helicopter, it was all tuned with the Feyenoord logo and there I understood it was coming down and I got off by helicopter inside the Feyenoord court. Actually, it was very exciting because I didn't expect that. And in one of the things that you also told, for example in River when I had to debut were moments that passed so fast that it wouldn't let me think or dream what I was living. That was the reality. I came to Feyenoord I was introduced, I went to do the preseason, then quickly I had to play matches to pass the Champions round, qualify. That's why I left one or two dates before River came out champion at Clausura '97.

 Jorge Barril:  Sure, of course. And what is the temperature like? How to play in the Netherlands? Do you think he's a fit player? Because in the end you scored a lot of goals, you were champion with Feyenoord. In fact, they keep remembering you very fondly. Do you think Pratto can make a similar path?

 Julio Cruz:  I think he has a lot of experience, he knows what it is like to play outside and I will repeat again, also having an Argentine there and other South Americans is very important. You go to a completely different language from yours, different customs also from yours. I want to believe that he will get used to it quickly because, as I always say, when a player goes to another country, unfortunately, adaptation is a right of floor that you have to pay. It's not that easy, is it? I hope he can do it very fast and I think the club is taking him because he needs goals and he where he starts to prove with the goals for me is going to win the love of all people, right?

“I went (to River) because of a question that I also saw Enzo, Ortega and other important players of name and wanted to be next to them. “

 Jorge Barril:  Good. We're with the boys, of course, but I want to ask you a little bit about River, and then we pass with them. In that River, because you played in a crazy River, full of figures, and you were one of them. How was it going from playing in Banfield 70 meters from the arch to getting your ball in there?

 Julio Cruz:  Just yesterday I was talking a little with the boys. This week, and next week is weeks where I have to talk to guys I have, right? that I am advising not to abuse the word representative, so I always try to meet them and talk to them and a little bit told them what had happened to me in Banfield. It changed my life in 6 months, most of all because I got physically well and because those 6 months for me were fundamental. In fact, it's not just River, let's say, River was the last club I wanted it to go there and I went for a matter that I also saw Enzo, Ortega and other important players of name and wanted to be next to them. I tell you honestly it didn't cost me because the first training I had with River, this was a Tuesday that I signed with River and on Thursday that was my first training, we went to do a training in I think Don Torcuato was, where River played a friendly match against Gimnasia. That day Ramón tells me “come in and do what you know” and I made 4 goals in a training against Gymnastics and the truth that I never felt that change, it's like I went in very fast and then the following Sunday when I made my official debut we won 3 to 1 in Union. I did two goals, didn't I?

 Jorge Barril:  Apart, when was the first goal? It took 15 seconds...

 Julio Cruz:  I was recently talking to Juampi, who was  Juampi Sorín  who gave me that pass, right? I don't know if it was 30 seconds, 20 seconds, I don't remember well but yeah, very fast. And well and so it was living, the truth that beyond what was the River that Ramón had, it was the quality of people there were who never made me feel like I was a player who came from Banfield. On the contrary, I was just one more player and when I got dressed and put on River's shirt they never made me feel anything else, did they? The truth I also saw many players who had arrived at that time and also. All the players that came to River made us feel part of that group, but as if we were already from a long time ago and that was a good thing and it was easier for the one coming, wasn't it?

 Jorge Barril:  Sure. Oh, John?

“When you become professional you take it as a profession and you don't live that circumstance of saying good 'play for fun. '”

 Juan Cruz Wolff:  Julio, how are you doing? All right? Listen to me I'm listening to you now and a little bit comes to mind the fact that when you are a player you have a lot of important things happening around, good as you say about the pass from Banfield to River, then go to Italy to Holland and everything and in the frenzy one as a player and, I have heard this many times with talks with my old and with other former players, who do not give him in the present, at the instant moment the importance it really has. Like, it's because of the career growth you're adding things and everything. Today in the distance, what moment do you have as “wow, this was dreamed” and passed by me by a lot, for the dream I had as a boy when I started?

 Julio Cruz:  Look, I don't know if it's a thing that many can match me or not...

 Juan Cruz Wolff:  No, it has to be what you felt.

 Julio Cruz:  No, what I felt, first that I always said it in my head, neither from my old men nor on my part is that I thought about becoming professional. I played football because I liked it and the truth is what I always did. Obviously when afterwards I became professional as the matches went on, as the clubs went on, more and more was being demanded. In fact, in Banfield we struggled not to descend, the priority was that and getting that for me was a very good thing. But well, there were others, as I can explain, other demands, didn't I? That's why I got harder, more nervous about the desire to win or tie at least always thinking about the relegation area. The opposite happened to me when I moved to River. Winning mindset, mentality that you had to be champion and actually changed everything for me, didn't it? The same thing happened to me when I went to Holland. In Holland it was a club that had long been not winning and we left champions and also for me it was the dream fulfilled, but the dream fulfilled by obligations because I felt professional and obviously it is my career. A little you know, because we've always chatted it outside among friends like us and explaining to them a little that when you become a professional you take it as a profession and you don't live that circumstance of saying good “play for fun”. Obviously we'd all like to play for fun, but that if I can do it, I do it now with my friends; I play to have fun, but at the time it never happened to my mind and today, obviously I have memories, yes, but because they call me people.

Last week I was talking to “little” Romero that we happen to have a friend of life and he was here, we chatted and remembered things about the Argentine National Team and yes, when I start talking, I remember, but it's not that I'm not going crazy thinking why I didn't do this why I didn't do the other thing. I think I lived it at that time the way I had to live it and I don't complain about anything, on the contrary I know that I did it as a profession and the truth that good, as I always say, life is this. Everything happens and unfortunately there is no clock that can be turned back. The clock always goes forward, right? And you have to take it that way.

 Jorge Barrel:  Tachi?

“I don't find that they are such an important mass of players”

 Tachi:  Hi, Julio, how are you doing? Tachi greets you. Look, I'm gonna take you a little to what you live today in football. Today we see a very physical football, I think many of us agree that football has changed from the time you played football today. It's all a lot more dynamic, isn't it? and, for example, football players today the training they have is completely different. How much do you think this changed the moment you played and what you see today reflected a little in what happens to your son? How did the methods of physical and football training change today?

 Julio Cruz:  Look, to start the change for this pandemic is to play without an audience, the truth that I have not witnessed any match like this spectator going to see a match, if not that I watch it on television, but it seems very rare for a player to get the concentration or he is mulo. I think sometimes for some players this is beneficial to play without an audience but for others not, so sometimes you have to get the fair concentration, I know that jobs today are different because I see it with my son. You'll ask me: are they better? I think they're better. Now, you ask me in my time if I were in these workouts as they are now would be equal to the game we had, I think not, because we, beyond that have always been evolving, the memories I have is having played with great  shows.   For example, face Zidane, De Shan, Di Livio for giving you some names, I don't know, having played with Figo, with Zanetti as a partner and today I don't see that number of players where you say they were important. Paolo Maldini, Del Piero, football  shows  also comes to mind. You were talking about Guardiola... also having treated Pep, Pochettino to have had him as a partner. Players that at the time when we were there were all great players. Today I don't think I can't find them such an important mass of players, do I? We know there are two that are  Messi  and Ronaldo and then, well, they all come down. It seems to me that in our time it was different, didn't it? There were many more names and much more quality.

 Jorge Barril:  Julio, do you like Inter?

 Julio Cruz:  I say yes because Inter is part of my heart, I would say almost one hundred percent for what I have lived for everything that has given me, what the Moratti family has made me feel as a player and as a person. And also what was the city with me because, beyond the fact that Inter was my home, in turn I also have a lot of people, friends and acquaintances from Milan. Milano what led me is to understand that football in Italy, beyond Juventus in recent years and as history also have many important things won, Inter and Milan are very important, right? I love that there are two teams that are very important in the world.

“It seems to me that (the Inter) by the names he has would have to give a lot more.”

Julio Cruz

 Jorge Barril:  Yes, and now a little pointed to today, do you like how Inter plays today? Inter de Conte?

 Julio Cruz:  Look, I'll be honest as they say  “non mi dispiace.”  It seems to me that because of the names he has had to give much more. The last match I saw him with La Sampdoria seems to me that knowing the story it was known that playing there in Genoa was difficult, but that a player who comes to Inter has to know. They missed a great opportunity that was to become first in  classification.  Beyond that you say yes, you win and lose, but when you have these opportunities that you don't play with your direct rivals that are Milan and Juve, you have to take that advantage and for me let a great opportunity pass. Still too long, isn't it? And I repeat it is a championship again, but not only in Italy, in the world, abnormal the one that is happening. Already the fact that they're not playing with the audience is not one thing that will fill you 100% for a professional player, is it? I think the best thing that can happen to a player is playing with a lot of people.

 Jorge Barril:  Yes, and it also gives the feeling that he can't find the return Conte to the team. It depends too much on Lukaku on some intervention by Lautaro, it gives Alexis Sanchez a few minutes. Do you see what I can win the  Scudetto ? Do you see the possibility?

“Italian football what it has is that, first it is difficult to score a goal and when you were wrong if they did it to you it is very difficult to reverse that situation. “

 Julio Cruz:  Yes, I do, I see the possibility because, although it is not what you expect, obviously he did 11 matches that he didn't lose. He has two very important players like Lautaro and Lukaku who have proved to be  high  (height in Italian) of what is Inter. Maybe it seems to me that some people sin out there, I don't know if mistakes or distractions in the defense part you know Italian football doesn't forgive you, does it? And also exactly when was it? The day before yesterday I think it was that I was looking at Benevento with Cagliari I think he played and of course, I don't forgive you. Italian football what it has is that, first it is difficult to score a goal and when you were wrong if they did it to you it is very difficult to reverse that situation. Notice that Benevento, Spezia are teams that have just climbed this year or this championship is difficult for big teams to beat them.

“For a professional football player in any country in the world and more being Argentina it is rewarding and it is proud to be able to wear the colors of your nation”

 Jorge Barril:  We are already slowly reaching the close of the note. The truth is that we are leaving the program, but talking about the Argentine National Team, what does it mean for you to have played in the national team, to have played a World Cup, to have been representing football in the Argentine National Team?

 Julio Cruz:  Pride, a lot of pride. I always say, for a professional football player in any country in the world and more being Argentina is rewarding and it is proud to be able to dress the colors of your nation, your roots, right? I had to live for many years, perhaps having gone only to a single world cup, I could have gone to others too, but good I had to live that, 2006, and I lived it with great joy with a lot of desire. Having enjoyed everything I lived with the colors of the Argentine National Team, representing a country to a lot of people and also reaching the top of Argentina, because in those years Argentina in the world  classification  we were one of the first, beyond that We didn't win the World Cup out there, did we?

 Jorge Barril:  Sure, if it's true, but good, playing with the Argentina National Team is sure to give you a different plus. Julio, to close, we're going to ask you the two questions about the slogan we have today. The first: if Cholo Simeone leaves Atlético Madrid, which team would you like him to lead?

“I think two teams that I would love to run El Cholo would be Inter or Lazio, because I was there. “

 Julio Cruz:  And, Cholo I think two teams that I would love would be Inter or Lazio because I was there, but I couldn't do it because I have two friends that one is Simone Inzaghi and the other good, Conte is a player or good a former player where I had to face him and the truth that as player was very hard and as a coach also, he has proved it in his other teams. But I would love it if, at some point I can lead one of those two teams in Italy.

 Jorge Barril:  I want it in Inter, but good you have to wait to see if he is pressing or not. And the second is: If you had to choose a coach for your team of these two that I'm going to mention, they're going to face in the final of the league cup in England, Tottenham-Manchester City. You have to choose a technician for your team, whichever you played, let's play Feyenoord, Guardiola or Mourinho?

 Julio Cruz:  I had Mourinho and I really can't complain about him because he's a winning guy I've always said it, but I think with Guardiola I would like to have him because I would like to know how he makes his teams play well and can achieve achievements as clubs. I'd put Guardiola.

 Jorge Barril:  You would put Guardiola. One crack, he answered us all July. Well, Julio, we have a friendship and I thank you so much for giving us these minutes that we value so much, really. I thank you very much, greetings to your wife, your children, your beautiful family you have and we'll meet you. I hope it's on a court, don't you Julio?

 Julio Cruz:  Hopefully, hopefully. I'm still training because the truth this quarantine made me raise 25 kilos, (laughs) that's why I don't put the picture, right?

 Jorge Barril:  (Laughter) Listen to me Julio, we're going to Meazza.

 Julio Cruz:  Al Giuseppe yes,  if we turn presto.  

 Jorge Barril:  Whenever you upload a story, your wife is a chef. It's awesome.

 Julio Cruz:  It's Argentina but it has the  quore tano,  then imagine what you eat. If I still think that going back to this, Italy is my house, the truth that I feel very comfortable there and maybe at some point we can return surely.

 Jorge Barril:  If so we meet at Meazza to see Inter together. I'm sending you a hug, Julio, thank you.

 Julio Cruz:  And with Juan Cruz, where is Juan going? To Mallorca, we're going to be near Juan. Well, guys, really nice, lucky for everyone and thanks to you too for these moments you gave me.

Listen to the audio of the interview by   clicking here 

Publication Date: 23/02/2021

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