Julio Ricardo Cruz

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Julio Ricardo Cruz : biography

10 October 1974 –

Honours

River Plate
  • Argentine Primera: 2
1996, 1997
Feyenoord
  • Eredivisie: 1
1999
  • Johan Cruijff-schaal: 1
1999
Internazionale
  • Serie A: 4
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
  • Coppa Italia: 2
2005, 2006
  • Supercoppa Italiana: 3
2005, 2006, 2008
Lazio
  • Supercoppa Italiana: 1
2009

Nickname

Cruz’s nickname, El Jardinero (Spanish for "the gardener"), was given to him at an early age. He was working as a groundskeeper for local team Banfield in 1993 when he was summoned by Oscar López to fill in for a missing player one day for a practice match. Upon noticing his talent, Banfield signed Cruz, and the nickname was born.

He was also nicknamed Poncherello by Inter Channel commentator Roberto Scarpini due to his similar appearance with the character from the 80’s TV show CHiPs .

Club career

Early career

A tall, physical striker at , Cruz started his career with Banfield in 1993. He moved to River Plate in 1996.

Feyenoord

In 1997, he moved to Europe, being signed by Feyenoord, and showing a great potential in terms of scoring proficiency. He then moved in 2000 to Bologna.

Bologna

At Bologna, under the management of Francesco Guidolin, Cruz was mainly used as a lone striker. While he was often derided by fans and the media alike for his lack of goalscoring proficiency, he did prove to be extremely apt at holding the ball up in order to bring the other attackers into the game. In 2001–02, he played an integral part in Bologna’s 7th-placed finish in Serie A, and while he only netted ten goals in the league, he earnt back the respect of his critics for his intelligent and passionate football.

Internazionale

In 2003, Cruz left Bologna and signed for Internazionale.

With the Nerazzurri, Cruz rarely played regularly in the first team, finding some playing time usually just when the leading strikers were unavailable, and often being used as a substitute, thus scoring 12 league goals in his first two seasons with Internazionale. He scored his first goal for Internazionale in the 3–0 victory over Arsenal at Highbury Stadium on 17 September 2003 in the Champions League. In a Champions League match against Porto on 1 November 2005, he scored twice in thirty minutes after being sent in to replace striker Adriano, turning a 0-1 into a 2–1 victory.

In the winter of 2005, Cruz was linked with rumours to Roma and other clubs because his contract was running out, but in February 2006, he extended his contract to the summer of 2008.

He ended the season as the top scorer for Internazionale with 21 goals, including fifteen league goals, and the second goal in the return match for the final of the 2006 Coppa Italia Final that Inter won 3–1 against Roma. He signed a new contract in September 2007. 

Lazio

On 31 July 2009, Cruz left Internazionale and signed with Lazio on a two-year contract as free agent, but also paid €2.15 million sign-on fees to Van Dijk B.V.(which later Lazio was fined by FIGC due to third parties ownership and unlicensed agent Dennis Anthonius Johannes Maria Sickman).http://www.figc.it/Assets/contentresources_2/ContenutoGenerico/97.$plit/C_2_ContenutoGenerico_31892_StrilloComunicatoUfficiale_lstAllegati_Allegato_0_upfAllegato.pdf . At the end of 2009–10 season, Lazio mutually terminated the contract, as Cruz was suffering from injury. Lazio was his last club.

National team statistics

Argentina national team
Year Apps Goals
1997 5 0
1998 0 0
1999 2 1
2000 1 0
2001 4 0
2002 1 1
2003 0 0
2004 0 0
2005 2 1
2006 2 0
2007 0 0
2008 5 0
Total 22 3