César Gómez: “Cafu, Totti, Batistuta… they are very humble people”

César Gómez: “Cafu, Totti, Batistuta… they are very humble people”
César Gómez, the man who stopped the best Ronaldo (Sport.De)

Last update April 21, 2020 by Javier Argudo

For the kids who collected stickers over the years 90, interview soccer players who appeared in those mp stamps’ it is something wonderful. It is the case César Gómez, defense formed in the lower categories of Real Madrid, who wore the Real Valladolid shirt, CD Tenerife and Rome.

You played at Castilla with Lopetegui, Caminero, Aldana, Julio Llorente, Santi Aragon… What do you remember of that stage?

I was several years in the Madrid branch. The military broke me’ a little bit that time. However Leo Beenhakker called me up for a Cup match. It was the time of La Quinta del Buitre and it was very difficult to make the jump to the first team.

His first experience in the First Division was at Real Valladolid. There were two seasons in which it coincides, without going further, with ‘the Colombians’.

Yes. The first season was very good. We did well and we were even close to the European posts. The second arrived Maturana, Valderrama and Higuita. Leonel Álvarez was already on the team. The truth is that it was a very difficult year, with many financial problems, we couldn't avoid the descent.

How is that being the center of a team where the goalkeeper is Higuita?

(laughs) The truth is that I think the only goal scored for Higuita for losing a ball was the World Cup against Cameroon. Logically it had a lot of impact for the game that was, but far from what people may think, René was not crazy, Unlike, when you meet him he's a very sane guy.

Valladolid Colombians
Initial formation of Real Valladolid at the Santiago Bernabéu: Above, from left to right: Heavy, Caminero, Onesimus, Alvarez, Saints Cuesta and Higuita; Down, from left to right: Fonseca, Guerrero, Valderrama, Lemos and César Gómez

After the descent with Real Valladolid, arrives in Tenerife

Exact. We had a great team. Pizzi, Quique Estebaranz, Antonio Mata, Felipe Miñambres, Dertycia, Redondo, Chano… There was also Valdano, who was able to change the mentality of both the players and the club and I would say that of the island itself. We gave everything in the field, regardless of the rival and especially in Heliodoro we felt very strong.

There, Real Madrid lost two leagues consecutively

Yes. When he lost the first one I was still in Valladolid but I already knew that I was going to Tenerife. They won 0-2 and they traced them. Next year we win 2-0 and it helped us qualify for the first time to play in Europe. It was historic for the club and for the fans.

After Valdano comes Cantatore and Heynckes. I imagine that German was very different.

Heynckes was a very smart person. He knew how to take advantage of Valdano's work and maintain the team's backbone, that now we were more veterans and we were more made, and propped up other things. With perhaps fewer names we go even further.

Once again qualifying for the UEFA Cup where they reach the semifinals

Right. We got the Schalke in semis and in the first leg we won 1-0 at home. It was a very tough game. We were sent off two players and they missed a penalty. The pity was that we went to Germany with many casualties. We lost 1-0 and we fell into overtime. Surely with the whole team we would have passed although you never know.

In the season 1996-1997 his famous marking arrives at Ronaldo Nazário

(laughs) The truth is that with Heynckes we used to play in the zone. But nevertheless, in a match against Dépor, I was ordered to dial the man to Bebeto and it went very well. Since then, when we faced an opponent with an ‘out of series’ They sent me marking to the man. In the first leg at the Camp Nou we tied one and in the return we won 4-0 and Ronaldo did not score. I was surprised by the media impact that all this had.

How's that playing against that, According to some people, he is the best center forward in history?

You can be sure. He was unstoppable. Before confronting him we saw him at the gatherings at the hotel with Chano, my roommate, and we said: “How can you stop this guy?”. Then Pizzi, who had him as a teammate at Barça, He told us that in training it was as if he were a professional and the rest were children. Crazy.

After those great seasons in Tenerife, you have the opportunity to sign, no more no less, that for Rome. Because I did not work?

Good, the truth is that the Spanish say that we were not very lucky in Italian football at that time. Gallego had gone before, Martin Vazquez… I arrived with Iván Helguera. The truth is that it was all very different. to get started, in preseason, in Spain, concentration lasted 8 O 9 days, in Italy it was almost a month. There were three and four training days. A huge physical demand.

César Gómez Roma
César Gómez and Iván Helguera in training with Roma (Spanish in Italy)

Finally he gets the title in a very special match: Roma-Lazio

effectively. I had played a couple of games starting from the bench but my first start is against Lazio in a derby. The truth is that the experience was unique, incredible. The atmosphere of those games is something that is already worth being a professional footballer, Unfortunately, we lost 3-1 and the press pointed me out. From there, everything that happened in Rome seemed to be the fault of César Gómez. At the end of the season the president already wanted to sell me.

Is it true that Ronaldo himself, I knew him from the League, he missed his substitution?

I do not know. Aldair, companion of mine in Rome, He told me that he was talking to him and he said why didn't he play if he was very good.

Four years in Rome and withdrawal. Do you regret going to Italy?

Not at all. Even knowing that I was not going to play I would hardly do it again without hesitation. The experience was magnificent. I have great friends there, I got along great with everyone, companions, members of the technical staff… with everyone except the president.

How was that about sharing costumes with people like Cafu, Totti, Batistuta…?

I can guarantee you that they were the most humble and normal people. Notice that Cafu won 2 World Cups and was a finalist for another and was a very simple person. The same as Batistuta and Totti… good, Francesco is a God in Rome. When I arrived I had 21 years and already 3 O 4 in the team. It was always clear to him that he wanted to stay the whole life in the club although, if I had to go out, the only team I would have gone to is Real Madrid.

For finishing, Which players impressed you the most throughout your career, personally and sports?

There are many people who marked me. Maturana was one of them, of those people that you realize is special. The same as Damiano Tommasi, an awesome being. Others like Balbo, Caminero, Valderrama, Redondo, Jokanovic, Cafu, Totti, Batistuta or Gustavo Poyet, I think he's an underrated footballer and he was a phenomenon.

Thanks a lot for your time, César Gómez.

No, thank you for remembering the football of our time.





Javier Argudo

PC Football changed my life.

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