- FIFA Legend Julio Cesar visited Bangladesh
- Former goalkeeper met some of country’s promising young players
- Brazilian notes football’s considerable growth potential in Asia
During his 20-year professional career, Brazilian Julio Cesar lived in five different countries and visited many more for international fixtures. Bangladesh, however, was new to him.
The former goalkeeper was given the opportunity to go to the South Asian country in his capacity as FIFA Legend. There he attended the semi-final of this year’s Bangabandhu Gold Cup on January 23 and shared his experience on the field with goalkeepers from top-flight teams and their women’s youth sides.
Julio Caesar, what surprised you on your first visit to Bangladesh?
How passionate the people are about football! That was very noticeable, as was the divide between fans of Brazil and Argentina! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend that much time in Dhaka, but I could feel the intensity of the city. Also, the traffic certainly made an impression. It was a beautiful trip.
During your stay, you had the chance to speak with the president of the country’s football federation, Kazi Salahuddin.
It was a very brief encounter, but he asked me for advice on how to improve the average physical condition of their national team players. I advised him to invest more in human resources. Specifically, I suggested having qualified coaches and good professionals involved day to day in order to better train more professionals.
You also met some of the national teams, including the women’s side. What did you make of the talent and passion of this generation of players?
It is wonderful to see the power of football and how much it incentivises children to dream of one day becoming a professional player, regardless of the country in which they live. I was delighted to see so many girls committed to football at such an important moment globally for the women’s game.
We imagine the younger ones asked you for advice, hoping to learn from the best, but did you learn anything from them?
What I learned there, not just from the children, but from the people of Bangladesh in general, is that, despite the day-to-day difficulties, they never stop smiling. I saw so many smiles during my stay!
There was a group of goalkeepers training at the federation’s facilities. Did you offer any advice to them?
It was a very brief meeting, although very rewarding. We talked a lot about how concentrated a goalkeeper must remain during a game.
Julio Cesar’s agenda in Bangladesh
- Tour of the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum
- Visit to the federation’s headquarters
- Attending the semi-final of the 2020 Bangabandhu Gold Cup (an international team competition)
After so many years dedicated to playing football, you now have a new role as FIFA Legend. Are you enjoying the international activities that the work entrails and what do you like most about your new role?
Being part of the FIFA Legends is undoubtedly a huge privilege. First, it gives me the opportunity to reconnect with some former team-mates, who are part of my personal history, and occasionally reminisce about great moments. In addition, we can collectively bring joy and inspiration to many people all over the world. Helping FIFA to strengthen football in developing countries is very interesting. I realise that football has ample potential for growth in continents such as Asia and Africa. And, obviously, organising and playing matches is always my favourite part – it’s the critical element and what we all like most.
During your trip to Bangladesh, people complemented you on your level of English. Have you been putting in a lot of study time?
(Laughs) I know I still have to improve my English a lot, but I’m trying! I can communicate well enough, but I still lack a little confidence when it comes to speaking in front of the cameras. I’m trying to get better every day as I know it’s very important for my future.