Luiz Felipe Scolari
2014 FIFA World Cup
Previous Clubs/Countries: CSA; Juventude; Brasil de Pelotas; Al-Shabab; Brasil de Pelotas; Juventude; Gremio; Goias; Al Qadisiya; Kuwait; Criciúma; Al-Ahli; Al Qadisiya; Gremio; Jubilo Iwata; Palmeiras; Cruzeiro; Brazil; Portugal
Honours: Campeonato Alagoano: 1982; Kuwait Emir Cup: 1989; Gulf Cup of Nations: 1990; Copa do Brasil: 1991, 1994, 1998; Campeonato Gaucho: 1987, 1995, 1996; Copa Libertadores: 1995, 1999; Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A: 1996; Recopa Sudamericana: 1996; Copa Mercosur: 1998; Torneio Rio-São Paul:2000; Copa Sul-Minas: 2001; FIFA World Cup: 2002; Uzbek League: 2009; FIFA Confederations Cup: 2013
"Donkey, donkey," chanted the Brazilian crowd towards Luiz Felipe Scolari as his side stumbled to a late 2-2 draw in a friendly match against England in June 2013. It was a shocking and unwarranted reception for the coach who had guided Brazil to World Cup glory in 2002 with one of the finest performances in the tournament's history.
Burdened with the task of restoring a depleted and underperforming Selecao a level where they could challenge for the world title once again, Scolari's credentials had seemingly been denounced by a vocal and aggressive home support.
However, fast forward just one month and 'Big Phil' was once again the nation's hero after winning over the Brazilian fans with a stunning display at the 2013 Confederations Cup, where the South Americans dismantled world and European champions Spain with an emphatic 3-0 scoreline in the final. Brazil had new renewed hope, Brazil had renewed vigour, but it was still the same old Scolari.
As a player, Scolari began his career in 1973. A tough defender, his clubs included Caxias, Juventude, Novo Hamburgo and CSA, while his leadership skills were in evidence as he regularly captained his sides.
While his playing career was not distinguished, Scolari impressed immediately on the managerial scene. Upon retiring in 1982, he was appointed manager of CSA, winning the Alagoano state championship in his first season. Taking in spells with Juventude (twice), Brasil de Pelotas and Al-Shabab of Saudi Arabia he won the 1987 Gaucho state championship with Gremio before moving to Kuwaiti side Al Qadisiya. In his two-year stint, Scolari won the pKuwait Emir Cup in 1989 and then had a brief stint with the Kuwait national team, winning the 10th Gulf Cup with the host nation.
A return to Brazil occurred after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and Scolari went back to Gremio in 1993. He won six titles in only three years, including the Copa Libertadores in 1995 and the Brazilian championship the following year, with his side built around hard-working, tough-tackling players instead of any one superstar. Japanese top-flight side Jubilo Iwata provided him with another challenge in 1997, but after eleven games, he returned to Brazil again to take charge of Palmeiras, one of the biggest clubs in his homeland. Named South American Coach of the Year for 1999, Scolari's three years in charge brought the Copa do Brasil, the Mercosur Cup and the club's first Copa Libertadores title.
After a short stint with Cruzeiro, the Brazilian returned to international management and was appointed the boss of Brazil in 2001. With one of the world's best sides in danger of missing out on the 2002 World Cup, Scolari led Ronaldo and company to the tournament in their last five qualification games. His public bust-up over the exclusion of Romario sent shockwaves through the nation, while his decision to opt for three centre-backs with an attacking trident proved a backhanded snub of Brazil's favoured 4-4-2 formation. However, it proved to be a masterstroke by Scolari who took Brazil to World Cup glory in South Korea and Japan. Wins over Turkey, China, Costa Rica, Belgium, England and Turkey again took them to the final, where the Selecao-- inspired by the scoring exploits of Ronaldo -- beat Germany 2-0 to win their fifth title.
His unusual training methods gained attention as he gave each of his players a copy of Sun Tzu's "The Art of War", a Chinese military treatise written during the 6th century BC. His attempts to enforce the Brazilian spirit and motivate the team may have been odd, but they were successful nonetheless.
Indeed, with a World Cup winners' medal in his trophy cabinet, Scolari's reputation was sealed as one of the best managers around and after stepping down from the Brazil post after the World Cup, he was soon snapped up by Portugal, as they prepared for Euro 2004 on home soil. Reaching the final by defeating Russia, Spain, England and Netherlands, Scolari was denied a World Cup and European Championship double as Greece produced one of the unlikeliest success tales to win thanks to Angelos Charisteas' solitary goal in the final in Lisbon. Despite the upset, Scolari was praised for inspiring an inconsistent Portuguese team to the brink of winning a first title.
The Brazilian coach was bidding to become only the second coach to win back-to-back World Cups since Vittorio Pozzo's feats in 1934 and 1938, but Portugal were beaten by Zinedine Zidane's penalty in the 2006 semifinal against France -- signalling their best World Cup finish since 1966, the days of the great Eusebio, when they came third. In addition, Portugal were voted as the most exciting team of the tournament, a testament to Scolari's attacking philosophy.
By the time Euro 2008 rolled around, 'Big Phil' had announced that he would be leaving the international set-up to return to club football. Unable to reproduce the performances of his previous major tournaments, Portugal were eliminated in the quarterfinals against Germany.
Installed as Chelsea boss shortly after the tournament, Scolari announced that he was keen to test his abilities in the English Premier League and insisted that financial incentives were not his main reason for joining. He recruited several of his Portuguese entourage and began life at Stamford Bridge with aplomb, steering Chelsea to the top of the league. However, club owner Roman Abramovich proved a difficult man to please and after dropping 16 home league points and falling adrift of the pace in the title race, Scolari's fate was sealed when he was sacked after a 0-0 draw with Hull in February 2009.
Becoming the highest paid manager in the world at Uzbekistani side Bunyodkor, Scolari won his second league title but his failure to progress beyond the last 16 of the Asian Champions League resulted in him stepping down and returning to Palmeiras with whom he won his fourth Copa do Brasil.
With Mano Menezes departing the Brazil hotseat in November 2012, the stage was set for Scolari to make a return and despite failing to win any of his first three matches, Scolari has finally managed to win over the hostile home support.
Having ended Spain's world record 29-match unbeaten competitive run with a resounding 3-0 win in the 2013 Confederations Cup final, there is great belief that Brazil can win the 2014 World Cup on home soil. With an 11-year undefeated home streak and with Scolari once again masterminding from the touchline, it could well be time for Brazil to regain their former tag as the kings of international football.
Strengths: Undeterred by criticism, Scolari is right to have confidence in his own ability as he has proved a shrewd tactician at both club and international level. He is a born winner and shows a willingness to adapt to new situations to achieve success.
Weaknesses: His temperament has got him into trouble at several teams and with the media whilst his team selections have often caused a stir amongst fans.
Career High: Rescuing Brazil from a footballing crisis and potential World Cup elimination in 2002, Scolari performed wonders to inspire the South American heavyweights to their fifth world title.
Career Low: Losing the Euro 2004 final to Greece with hosts Portugal, in what is considered one of international football's greatest upsets.
Tactics: Malleable. Scolari has deployed a number of different formations throughout his career, preferring a 3-4-1-2 at the 2002 World Cup with Brazil, a 4-2-3-1 while at Portugal and a 4-3-3 at Chelsea. Scolari is happy to prioritise winning at the expense of attractive football and is a firm believer of two tough-tackling central midfielders.
Quotes: "Scolari is the right man for Brazil at this moment. He has the experience and immense knowledge of the game. He has guided the team to the World Cup title once and I strongly believe that 'Big Phil' will come up with another winning recipe. He has the winning profile and that's important when it comes to coaching a team like Brazil." Former Brazil captain and coach Dunga believes Scolari is the ideal candidate to steer the Selecao World Cup glory.
Trivia: Scolari is a self-confessed fan of Gremio and Palmeiras -- two Brazilian sides he has managed -- whilst he admits to being an admirer of Brian Clough's European Cup-winning Nottingham Forest side.
Words: Max Bentley