Part-time striker

Julio Cruz SCROLL TO READ STORIA N.11 / 110

The derby on 11th March 2007 was going badly for Inter. Milan went ahead thanks to a goal from the former Nerazzurri player Ronaldo, the Rossoneri’s goal seemed enchanted and the team looked to be falling to pieces with two injuries in the first half. Julio Ricardo Cruz watched the first half from the bench. It wasn’t new for the player who often had to wait for his turn to enter the action with the match already in progress during his Inter years. But, the part-time forward Cruz knew how to make his timing his strength. Nine minutes after the break, he was brought on. 13 seconds after coming on, he scored to equalise and 20 minutes later he turned it around with an assist for Ibrahimovic who made it 2-1.

Against Milan, he would also score in the following match and the one after, finding a place in the hearts of the Nerazzurri fans. He first won over the fans in his debut season in 2003-4 with a lob away to Arsenal and two goals against Juventus to bring the first league win in ten years. Against Juventus, he also struck for Feyenoord and Bologna, scoring seven in Serie A and the Coppa Italia, netting another brace despite his side being a man down. Julio was also about sacrifice, intelligence and dedication which are essential characteristics for those who share the platform of great forwards.

I never worked as a gardener. When I used to play in the Banfield youth teams, I used to like to going around on the mini-tractors that they had to finish off the pitch. One day, the groundsman saw me and I asked if I could cut the grass a bit because the first team had to train on it. I never went back.

His part as a supporting actor and not the star was clear when he was a boy at River Plate. In theory, he was supposed to be behind Marcelo Salas but he scored more than him. They signed him from Banfield where it was said that he’d be noticed by chance as he worked cutting the grass on the training pitch. It was just a myth but he’d continue to be known as ‘El Jardinero’ but he never stopped being a master of the art of waiting.

Julio Cruz

Julio Ricardo Cruz (Santiago del Estero, 10th October 1974), He joined Inter in 2003 from Bologna for 9.5 million Euros. In his six seasons for the Nerazzurri, he played 207 times and scored 81 goals. He won the league four times (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009), he won the Coppa Italia twice (2005 and 2006) and the Supercoppa Italiana three times (2005, 2006 and 2008). For Argentina, he picked up 22 caps and took part in the 2006 World Cup.