Soccer

Julio Cesar enjoying new chance with Brazil

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BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP)

Julio Cesar's career went spiraling down after a mistake led to Brazil's elimination from the 2010 World Cup.

The Brazil goalkeeper even thought about quitting football because of the blunder that disappointed an entire nation.

But three years later, he is back with the national team, rejoicing about his chance to return to the big stage and try to help Brazil win the title that slipped away in part because of him.

''I said before the Confederations Cup began that this competition would be very important to me individually,'' Julio Cesar said. ''I know that this is an opportunity that can change a lot of things for me. I want to do well.''

The 33-year-old goalkeeper said he was inspired by a movie and the resiliency of Arjen Robben to keep believing that he could bounce back and get his career on the right track again.

''I used the movie `Rocky' as an example,'' he said. ''And I look at what happened to Robben, who finally won the Champions League after everything that had happened to him before. It shows that it can be done.''

Robben won Europe's top club title with Bayern Munich this year after coming close several times before. Last year, he missed a penalty in the final against Chelsea.

Julio Cesar had been the top choice for Brazil's goal until the match against the Netherlands in the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. But with Brazil leading 1-0 and in control of the game, he misplayed a cross into the area, failing to clear the ball and letting in a goal that started the Dutch team's comeback.

''The day after the match, for a moment I thought about stopping playing,'' he said. ''I kept thinking, `Why did this happen? Why were we eliminated?' I needed a lot of support from my family and from my close friends to get through it.''

Julio Cesar played again for Brazil at the 2011 Copa America, when he also failed to help the national team avoid elimination, and didn't make it back to the Brazilian squad until Luiz Felipe Scolari returned as coach in December.

Julio Cesar also lost his job at Inter Milan in 2012, and the only team that gave him another chance was Queens Park Rangers, which was eventually relegated this season.

''After the World Cup, my career took an unexpected turn,'' he said. ''It was a delicate moment. Queens Park Rangers was the club, the only club, which offered to help me after everything that had happened.''

Another thing that played a role in his return to the national team, in addition to his hard work to stay in form, was the naming of former Brazil coach Carlos Alberto as an assistant to Scolari.

''It was clear that when Scolari arrived he tried to mix youngsters and more experienced players in the squad,'' Julio Cesar said. ''I think it was important that I worked with Parreira in the Confederations Cup in 2003, in the Copa America in 2004 and in the World Cup in 2006. There was some trust there.''

Julio Cesar is back in the national team and is also starting to attract the attention of some top teams in Europe again. He said he is aware of reports that AS Roma is interested in signing him.

''Returning to Italian football would be very interesting,'' he said. ''And if I win the Confederations Cup with Brazil, maybe even more clubs will want to talk to me.''

But Julio Cesar's main goal remains unchanged.

''I'm happy that things are going well for me again,'' he said. ''But every player dreams of winning the World Cup and that's true for me, too. And I know that this will probably be my last chance to do it, so I'm focused on helping Brazil do well in the Confederations Cup and being back here next year.''

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