Driven, inspirational and charismatic, Luiz Felipe Scolari has made countless headlines with both his winning ways and unique turns of phrase over the course of nearly 30 years in coaching. As FIFA.com continues its series of memorable quotes by the game’s biggest characters, who better then to feature than Felipão (Big Phil), the man who led Brazil to their fifth FIFA World Cup™ triumph at Korea/Japan 2002.
“I’ll give a sweet to anybody who manages to score a goal.” After his first, and not particularly satisfactory, training session with A Seleção in 2001.
“I’m still hoping to teach the defenders how to play like defenders.” Speaking as a former centre-back, whose game was based on a rugged will-to-win rather than refined technique.
“The nickname Felipão (Big Phil) came from the position I used to play in. I used to dish out a bit of stick. I was... manly.” The kind of player he used to be, in his own words.
“He could mess up ten times and I’d still call him up ten times.” Boosting the confidence of inspirational attacker Rivaldo, a player who would prove crucial to Brazil 2002 FIFA World Cup triumph.
“But those were times when they used to use sausages as dog leads.” From a statement back in 2001, using an expression with roots in a literary fantasy world, when responding to criticism that his Brazil side didn’t have the swagger of the 1958 and 1962 teams.
“I was paying a compliment to ex-players and they (the press) just didn’t get it. But patience, the expression I used comes from the inland region of Rio Grande do Sul. It just means that the dog is so full of food that it doesn’t even bother to eat the sausages around its neck.” Explaining his reasons for using the ‘sausages as dog leads’ expression, which generated a great deal of debate and came to symbolise his pragmatic approach to coaching.
“Ronaldo is the best player in the world, but he’s not supernatural.” Speaking in 1997, when referring to the Brazilian striker who hadn’t yet been nicknamed Il Fenomeno. The tag was given by the Italian press during his time at Inter Milan.
“I’ve had enough of players who are like cassava plants: they just stay rooted to the spot in midfield.” Voicing his dissatisfaction with some of his Palmeiras charges back in 1999.
“In a competition like the World Cup, you often need your whole squad more than a single star player. So will it really be worth putting all our faith in just one star man?” In March 2002, in response to Romario’s public pleas for a place in the Brazil squad for Korea/Japan 2002.
“I like players to know and to feel that I’m going to defend them like a father would his children. But I’m still as motivated as I was when I started out 30 years ago. I still feel like a youth-team coach when I go out on the pitch. If I didn’t, then I wouldn’t be able to convey that sense of protection.” Explaining his rapport with his players in an interview with FIFA.com in November 2010.
“I didn’t attack anyone. I simply defended my players.” Giving his perspective on an incident with Serbia’s Ivica Dragutinovic in a UEFA EURO 2008 qualifier, during his time as Portugal boss.
“I made a mistake. My behaviour was out of order, but I was protecting my player, like a real Italian! To a degree, I regret what I did.” Speaking in 2010, looking back on the clash with Dragutinovic.
“Portugal secure qualification and I’m the idiot? I’m the mental one?” Fighting back against the wave of criticism he received despite guiding Portugal safely through EURO 2008 qualifying.
“Look at [Nicolas] Anelka. He wasn’t getting a game and then under me he was Chelsea’s top scorer. Ashley Cole couldn’t use his right foot and later he even scored with it, and all [Salomon] Kalou could do was run fast. He couldn’t dribble very well, so we taught him to dribble round poles. Ok, I know they were only poles in the ground but it helped him to start dribbling round opponents, which is something he can now do. And then there’s [Didier] Drogba, who had a serious knee injury but is fine now thanks to the work I did, not just the club’s doctors. I refused to let him play with an injury and I had problems with him because of that. But in 20 or 30 years' time, there’ll be two or three of them who’ll still be walking absolutely fine. They’ll remember me then, for sure.” In a November 2010 interview with FIFA.com, outlining the legacy he left during his short spell at Chelsea.
“It was one of the worst days of my coaching career.” On Palmeiras’ semi-final exit at the hands of fellow Brazilian side Goias, who had already suffered relegation from Brazil’s top flight, in the 2010 Copa Sudamericana.