I was the club GARDENER before dramatic first-team call-up led to career with Inter Milan and Argentina national team

FROM pruning hedges to preening international stars, this is one incredible footballing journey.

One special day in 1993 saw this Argentina legend receive the most unlikely of first-team call-ups.

This striker was part of a stunning Inter Milan team in the early 2000sCredit: AP:Associated Press

Banfield were left shockingly short in the forward department, and the reserves just weren’t up to scratch.

Manager Oscar Lopez decided on a real novel idea – give the local GARDENER a shot at the big time.

The 6ft 2in forward swapped his shears for shin pads, and the rest as they say, is history.

He went on to make 65 appearances for Banfield before making the move to Argentinian giants River Plate.


A goal-laden spell at Feyenoord was followed by three years at Bologna before the star REALLY hit the big time when Italian giants Inter Milan swooped in.

They are believed to have paid around £8m for his signature.

He went on to score 75 goals in 197 games in all competitions for the Nerazzurri between 2003-2009 before joining Lazio where he retired in 2010.

It is of course Julio Cruz!

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Julio Cruz became a cult hero with fans at Inter MilanCredit: Getty


Now 48 years old, Cruz won four Serie A titles with Inter and will go down as one of their modern heroes.

Despite his imposing style, Cruz was versatile and often played on the wing or as an attacking midfielder.

The Santiago del Estero-born star won 22 caps for Argentina between 1997 and 2008, scoring three goals. He played at the 1997 Copa America and the 2006 World Cup.

Away from football, he opened a charity in his name in 2015.

He became somewhat of a cult hero during his years at Inter – and recently revealed he was deemed “unsellable” by one ex-president.

Cruz also won 22 caps for Argentina, scoring three goalsCredit: Getty

Speaking to CalcioNapoli24, Cruz said: “My agent, Jorge Cysterpiller, told me many times that he wanted to take me to Napoli, but president Massimo Moratti never wanted to let me go.

“He’s a president I cannot say anything against; he was more than a president, he invested time and money for many years, winning with a great team.

“Luciano Spalletti also wanted me several times, at Roma and Zenit St Petersburg, but Moratti didn’t want me to leave and in those years we made history with Inter.”

He was part of an envious striker department that included Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Adriano, Obafemi Martins, Alvaro Recoba, and Hernan Crespo.

Speaking about his time playing with Zlatan, Cruz added: “We had fun, we won a championship playing in pairs.

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“Everyone said we were incompatible but that year we scored a lot of goals.

“I don’t remember why he took the No8 shirt, but he never asked me for the No9.”

Source: Soccer -


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