Brazil keeper Cesar ready to repay Scolari's faith
Brazil goalkeeper Julios Cesar laughs during a press conference at the squad's Granja Comary training complex in Teresopolis on May 27, 2014 - by Vanderlei Almeida
"I come in with my suitability in the position questioned, but happy and 100 percent ready," the 34-year-old said Tuesday as he settled into Brazil's tournament headquarters at Granja Comary an hour outside the hubbub of Rio.
The former Inter Milan shot-stopper has been in the limelight with Scolari insisting throughout the build up to the competition that he will definitely be first choice between the sticks.
But Cesar in January had to resort to resurrecting his club career in the unlikely surroundings of Toronto after months spent in the wilderness following relegation from the English Premier League with Queens Park Rangers.
A veteran of two previous World Cups Cesar has Scolari's unwavering public support as well as a winners medal from last year's Confederations Cup, where he was designated best keeper.
After rumored moves to either Arsenal, Napoli, Fiorentina or else a move back home to Brazil failed to materialize Cesar stayed at QPR -- albeit on the sidelines, before Major League side Toronto came calling.
"People said I was going to play in a Mickey Mouse league. But I can say that the US league in the past few years has passed that of Brazil in terms of attendances -- for my first game we had 45,000 people in the stadium.
"The US league is enjoying huge growth," he added, while noting he had seven matches under his belt. "I conceded nine goals so that was very annoying," he told reporters.
Four years ago, he was singled out for criticism as Brazil exited the World Cup in South Africa following a quarter-final loss to the Netherlands, after being caught out for the Dutch opener.
Cesar, relishing the build-up to Brazil's curtain-raiser with Croatia in Sao Paulo on June 12, insisted that he has put that behind him.
"I come in (to this year's Cup) better than in 2010, better focused, better prepared," he explained, suggesting that had Scolari not returned to the helm some 18 months ago his international career might have been over.
"After all that happened to me at Inter, at Queens Park Rangers, I never stopped plugging away. It was the confidence I felt from the coaching staff which ensured that I am here today.
"Had another coaching team been in charge of the Selecao I don't know if I'd be here."
Botafogo keeper Jefferson is first reserve but has yet to win a competitive cap, such is Scolari's faith in his first choice.