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Monday, 19 March, 2001, 10:32 GMT
Brazil call up ex-convict
Cesar Rodrigues
Cesar celebrates scoring for his club Sao Ceatano
BBC Sport Online's Tim Vickery profiles the fall and rise of a former prisoner who has been called up to the Brazil squad.

An enormous prison revolt in São Paulo made headlines all over the world last month.

Some 30 prisons were involved, but the centre of the rebellion was Carandiru, the largest jail in Latin America and an overcrowded hell from which few are rehabilitated.

To emerge from there and go on to be called up to the Brazil squad borders on the miraculous.

But that is just what has happened to left back César who has been named in the list to face Ecuador in World Cup qualification on 28 March.

Staggering ineptitude

It is less than two years since prisoner César Aparecido Rodrigues was transferred from Carandiru to a semi-open regime, and was able to resume his football career.

He is now free, although his sentence still has two years to run.

But he will never shake off the tag of the ex-convict who made good after making a mistake at the age of 19 that will mark his life for ever.

In 1994 César played for Juventus, a small team who had just been promoted to São Paulo's first division.

The players were to split a $100,000 bonus, but César tipped off two of his friends, who stole the money, which the three of them then divided.

Pele has become involved in plot twist

With staggering ineptitude, they immediately bought cars in cash and were quickly discovered.

By the time he was sentenced he had been picked up by São Caetano, a new club from the industrial belt around São Paulo.

Small in size but big in ambition, São Caetano set upon a meteoric rise.

With the reinforcement of the rampaging César at left back, they were runners-up in last year's Brazilian second division, and thus qualified for the knock-out stages of the National Championship.

They were expected to fall early, but the team of unknowns became overnight stars by beating a series of big name clubs to make it to the final in thrilling style.

The records state that César and his colleagues lost to Vasco da Gama in the decider, but they could even make a legal claim to be champions.

Extraordinary alliance

A disaster at Vasco's stadium meant that the second leg of the final was replayed.

Had the regulations been followed then Vasco would have been declared responsible for the disaster, and the game and the title awarded to São Caetano.

César's career has benefited but his international call-up has been offset by some bad news.

Last week a special committee formed by an extraordinary alliance between Pelé and the man he has often accused of corruption, Brazilian FA President Ricardo Teixeira, has its first meeting.

Their brief is to save Brazilian football and for some mysterious reason they feel this end will best be served if São Caetano are excluded from the first division.

It seems to some like a case of daylight robbery, something with which César is apparently all too familiar.

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