|Date of Birth
||10 October 1974
|Place of Birth
||Santiago del Estero
Julio Ricardo Cruz (born 10 October 1974 in Santiago del Estero) is an Argentina Association football who currently plays for S.S. Lazio in the Italy Serie A.
A tall, physical forward at , Cruz started Julio Cruz football career with Club Atlético Banfield in 1993. Julio Cruz moved to Argentine team Club Atlético River Plate in 1996. In 1997, Julio Cruz moved to Europe again, being signed by Netherlands team Feyenoord Rotterdam, and showing a great potential in terms of scoring proficiency. Julio Cruz then moved in 2000 to Serie A team Bologna F.C. 1909. In 2003, Cruz left Bologna and signed for Italian giants Internazionale Milano F.C..
With the Nerazzurri, Cruz rarely played regularly in the first team, finding some playing time usually just when the leading strikers were unavailable, and often being used as a substitute, thus scoring 12 league goals in Julio Cruz first two seasons with Internazionale Milano F.C.. Julio Cruz scored Julio Cruz first goal for Internazionale in the 3-0 victory over Arsenal F.C. at Arsenal Stadium on 17 September 2003 in the UEFA Champions League. In a Champions League match against Futebol Clube do Porto on 1 November 2005, Julio Cruz scored twice in thirty minutes after being sent in to replace striker Adriano Leite Ribeiro, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 victory.
In the winter of 2005, rumours linked Julio Cruz to A.S. Roma and other clubs because Julio Cruz contract was running out, but
in February 2006 the contract was extended to the summer of 2008. Julio Cruz ended the season as the top scorer for Internazionale with 21 goals, including fifteen league goals, and the second goal in the return match for the final of the 2006 Coppa Italia that Inter won 3-1 against Roma. On 31 July 2009 Cruz left after five years with Inter Milan and signed with League rivals S.S. Lazio on a one year contract.
Cruz has twenty two caps and four goals for Argentina national football team. Julio Cruz participated in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, coming on as a late substitute in the matches against the Netherlands national football team and Germany national football team. Julio Cruz scored the opening penalty in the penalty shoot-outs but couldn't help Argentina progress to the semi finals
Cruz's nickname, El Jardinero (Spanish for "the gardener"), was given to Julio Cruz at an early age. Julio Cruz was working as a groundskeeper for local team Club Atlético Banfield in 1993 when Julio Cruz was summoned by coach Oscar López to fill in for a missing player one day for a practice match. Upon noticing Julio Cruz talent, Banfield signed Cruz, and the nickname was born.