Julio Cesar told his team-mates that he would be the hero before the dramatic penalty shoot-out which saw Brazil edge out Chile and reach the World Cup quarter-finals.
Cesar saved efforts from Mauricio Pinilla and Alexis Sanchez as the hosts won the shoot-out 3-2 after the last-16 match had ended 1-1 after extra time.
“Before the penalties Julio said, ‘hit them with confidence and I’ll stop three’,” said Brazil’s captain Thiago Silva.
“It was preordained. Chile were a great team but we found strength. The most important thing is that the group is united, independent of any mistakes.”
Chile lost when the former West Bromwich Albion and Nottingham Forest defender Gonzalo Jara hit the post.
After the game Cesar, who spent much of last season sittingh on the bench for Queens Park Rangers, said the result would lift the whole nation. “I’m very, very happy. I believe the Brazilian people just needed this,” he said. “We all needed this.
“We all knew it was going to be a very tough game. Chile deserve all our respect and that’s the way it’s going to be.
“I just hope the games that come now aren’t decided by penalties, otherwise our friends and families might have heart attacks,” he added.
“This is something I’ve been saying over and over again. Many people were challenging my being selected. This shows I was well training for the World Cup.
“I must thank Felipao [coach Luiz Felipe Scolari] and the staff for all the training they have done for me. After what happened in 2010 I see how may people are just cheering for me and hoping for me after what happened.’’
Cesar referred to the quarter-final against the Dutch four years ago when he misjudged a cross for Holland to equalise – they went on to win. “After the [last] World Cup, to be labelled as the villain, it was very bad. I got the support of my family, who just supported me. This gives me the necessary strength. I apologise if I talk too much. I am trying to sum up four years’ work.
“My crying before the penalties? People saying nice things to me and I became very emotional. This was very special after what happened after the last World Cup.”
The Chile coach, Jorge Sampaoli, said his team had “made history” in spite of the defeat. He said: “The performance was okay but we are sad because of the result. We have played a South American rival for 120 minutes and it is very harsh for us to lose even if we have given everything.
“Of course we are proud. I am very proud of my players. I’m very proud of Chile as well because I think the national team has represented the country very well. Listen, penalties is something that you always train for but when you are on the field the situation is completely different. We thought the game would end differently. We have to analyse our performance.
“I think the players have made history because they have represented our country in a beautiful, amazing way. They even risked injuries and they kept fighting and running. We are sad and we are hurt but after some time we will be able to appreciate the value of the team against the local favourites.
“I don’t think Brazil risked anything and they didn’t create many opportunities. We were able to neutralise Neymar, marking him so he couldn’t really benefit from any spaces. But I don’t believe in moral victories. We didn’t get any points for that. We are no longer in the competition.
“We were at the level of these top teams but unfortunately we weren’t able to win today,” added Sampaoli. “I told my players to fight and defy history and these big names we were playing. Looking to the future we have to keep going on that path. At this World Cup my players have performed with style and bravery.”
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