Some players profess to having some attributes which can be applicable to multiple sports. With Julio Baptista, I imagine one of his could be that of a … physical disposition.
And I don’t mean physical in a naughty way (you dirty bugger!) but more like UFC or WWE – something of that variety? Why do I think that? Because the man was an absolute unit! Someone who wouldn’t look out of place at the doorway of Tiger Tiger, leave alone in the Target Man position for some of the game’s elite clubs.
Nevertheless, it turns out that Julio Baptista was a surprisingly fleet-footed striker in his time, and as his stature in the game grew, the physical side of his game improved. Which perhaps explains why his own striking output had decreased over times at the clubs he served. And more so explains why his status changed with it …
Having being scouted back home with Sao Paolo, Julio Baptista went on a voyage not too dissimilar from other fledgling South American talents – in that he packed a suitcase and lumbered his firm behind over to Europe. You know, the place with all the cameras, notoriety and erm … money. What?! Who said that. Stop it now, guys! Please.
Whatever your thoughts about this kind of career path, it worked out well for the Brazilian powerhouse. Registering a goal every other game for Sevilla over a two-year period before Real Madrid came calling in 2005. Annoyingly for him, Madrid were suffering somewhat of an identity crisis during his spell at the Bernabeu, and his ‘plonk the ball up to me and let me do my thing’ mantra wasn’t fully utilised.
Three years of being played outside his prime role took its toll on big ol’ Julio, and his form and confidence (I believe) dipped as a result of that … which is a crying shame for the footballing public. Especially when you consider that the fall of Adriano and rise of Robinho really could have brought out his abilities on the international forum.
Whether you want to view this as a regression of his talents is up to you, but over the next few years, Baptista turned into a journeyman for a load of teams who could benefit from his ‘beast‘ reputation. Thus, culminating in cult-hero-like stints with Arsenal, Roma, Malaga, Cruzeiro and Orlando City SC.
Personally, I was surprised that he wasn’t received so positively in North London as I believe he had a lot to offer a team like Arsenal at that stage of their development under Wenger. But alas, we shall use this time to remember Julio Baptista for his brighter moments, of which there were plenty, but not enough to satisfy the insatiable appetites of the ultras that still scream his name. I just hope he realises just how valued he is by his treasured supporters, however, for we understand the powers he possessed and can say that circumstances befell the talent, rather than the other way round.