Meet The Players
These are the players from the last Free Kick Masters event held at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Referred to as the "Beast of Sevilla" and even as the "Brazilian Steven Gerrard", Júlio Baptista began his professional career in 2000 as a defensive midfielder with São Paulo F.C.. In total he made 73 appearances scoring 10 goals as a defensive midfielder.
On August 6, 2003 Sevilla FC unveiled Baptista to be their newest signing. He cost the Spanish club £1.75 million. Baptista made it clear he was confident that he will succeed in Spain, donning the number 19 jersey Baptista began operating as an attacking midfielder. Baptista settled in quickly and was being touted as the signing of the season. His form attracted the attention of several big name clubs but despite interest from English giants Arsenal, Baptista remained at Sevilla for the following season in which he once more showed his worth registered 25 goals in all competitions..
Between 2003 and 2005 Baptista made 81 appearances (in all competitions) for Sevilla and scored 50 goals in total, a terrific return which began a summer of transfer rumours in which Real Madrid battled it out with Arsenal for his signature. He ultimately chose to sign for Madrid, as another season in Spain would enable him to gain Spanish citizenship and allow him to travel freely throughout Europe.
On July 25, 2005. Real Madrid confirmed the signing of the long-time Arsenal target.  It looked as if Arsenal were set to sign Baptista, after Sevilla president confirmed he'd received offers from the club. But Baptista revealed he opted for Real Madrid after revealing he was only a year away from receiving Spanish citizenship, which would enable him to travel across Europe freely. He also revealed that he didn't want to move to England. 
The season looked very promising for Real Madrid, the big money signings of Robinho from Santos, Baptista from Sevilla and Sergio Ramos from Sevilla meant that Real Madrid were tipped to end their trophy drought, however it was not to be. At Real Madrid, Baptista was often played out of position as a left-winger to accommodate the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Guti in the Spanish side's attacking line-up. For this reason he was unable to find the form that led many of Europe's top clubs to sign him. He managed to score just eight league goals throughout the 2006 league campaign. The season ended in dissapointment as Real Madrid yet again ended the season without a trophy.
Baptista insisted that Arsenal were still in pursuit of him, but he made it clear he wanted to fulfil his contract with Real Madrid. 
At the end of August 2006, with the transfer window about to close, press reports linked him with a move to either Tottenham Hotspur or Arsenal, with the latter possibly as part of a swap deal including José Antonio Reyes. Baptista himself had strenuously claimed that he was not interested in a move away from Real Madrid. However, on August 31, 2006, the day of the transfer deadline, Baptista moved to Arsenal in exchange for José Antonio Reyes, the deal involved the two players swapping clubs on 12 month loan deals.
Baptista struggled to score in the Premier League, managing just three goals in 24 league matches. However, Baptista found scoring form in the League Cup, with six goals in the competition, including a club record four goals in Arsenal's quarter-final victory against Liverpool on January 9, 2007, in a 6-3 win for Arsenal; beside his four goals, he also missed a penalty kick. Baptista also scored twice in Arsenal's semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur (having also scored an own goal at the other end), but they lost 2-1 to Chelsea in the final.
Baptista made it known he wanted to make his tenure at Arsenal a permanent one. However Arsene Wenger decided against making his loan a permanent one after Real Madrid rejected the chance to sign José Antonio Reyes.
In total, Baptista scored 10 goals in 35 appearances for Arsenal.
Return to Real Madrid
At the end of the 06-07 season, he was no longer required by Arsenal and returned to Real Madrid as the loan deal finished. Since the appointment of Bernd Schuster as head coach of Madrid, Baptista has played far more often and in the position he prefers to play in.
Julio Baptista scored his first Champions League goal of the season against Lazio. Baptista then preceded to score his second league goal of the campaign, bagging a magnificent first half goal off a one-two pass from Ruud van Nistelrooy in El Clasico against Barcelona. His goal proved to be vital as it was the only goal in a game that finished 1-0. This was only the second time Real Madrid had beaten rivals Barcelona at the Nou Camp in 24 years.
During the season Baptista continued his good form. This led to many praising his good performances as he continued to keep Guti on the bench.. However towards the end of the campaign he lost his place in the squad leading to another summer of speculation regarding his future.
Baptista has 41 caps with Brazil, and has netted ten goals. His first cap came on 4 June 2001 in a 0-0 draw against Japan in the 2001 Confederations Cup, and he also played a limited part in the 2005 edition.
As Baptista is often played out of position in Real Madrid, his form dipped and hence, not included on the 2006 World Cup roster. However, Baptista was re-called to the Brazil squad for the 2007 Copa America and scored the opening goal in Brazil's 3-0 victory over Argentina in the Final on July 15, 2007. Baptista ended the competition with 3 goals. He has since found himself more of a regular fixture in the Brazil line up thanks to his performance at the Copa America.
|Full name||Júlio César Baptista|
|Date of birth||October 1, 1981 (1981-10-01)|
|Place of birth||São Paulo, Brazil|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Playing position||Defensive Midfielder, Attacking Midfielder, Striker|
|Current club||Real Madrid|
→ Arsenal (loan)
1 Senior club appearances and goals