BUENOS AIRES - Luiz Felipe Scolari lasted
only seven months as Chelsea manager after surviving more than
15 years in the cut-throat world of Brazilian coaching.
During his long and controversial coaching career, Scolari
has become used to leaving through the front door and Monday's
dismissal was a rare setback for the 60-year-old known as Big
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Scolari was a rough and ready central defender in his
playing days with provincial clubs in the southern state of Rio
Grande do Sul. He later said of his playing career: "I made the
But, after taking up a career as a physical education
instructor, he came into his own as a coach.
He won the Libertadores Cup, South America's equivalent of
the Champions League, with Gremio and Palmeiras and had
collected a hatful of titles by the time he left his homeland in
2002 to coach Portugal.
Those included the greatest prize of all when Scolari,
having taken over as Brazil coach at one of the team's lowest
ebbs only one year earlier, led his country to their fifth world
title in 2002.
He bravely gambled on Ronaldo, who had just recovered from a
succession of injury problems, as his striker and ignored
national clamour to include 36-year-old Romario, hugely gifted
but equally temperamental, in his squad.
That victory turned Scolari into a national hero. He had
prospered in one of the world's most ruthless coaching
environments, even if his methods were often questioned.
Scolari publicly encouraged his players to foul the
opposition, saying that other coaches did the same.
"I'm stupid because I tell the truth while the others lie,"
he once said.
Big Phil was once caught by television cameras offering to
settle his differences with a referee in the car park after he
had been dismissed from the touchline.
"I'll wait for you outside, mate," shouted Scolari, his eyes
wild with rage, in front of millions of television viewers.
He was famous for intimidating match officials and for
ordering ball boys to throw spare balls on to the field to
disrupt opposition attacks when his team were winning.
During the 1998 Brazilian championship final, when his
Palmeiras team committed 40 fouls in the first leg against Vasco
da Gama, Scolari was sent off for getting involved in a pushing
match with a rival player on the touchline.
He mellowed considerably after his move to Portugal in 2002
and managed to galvanise a team of perennial underachievers.
Portugal reached the 2004 European Championship final and
the World Cup semi-finals in Germany two years later, equalling
their best performance at the tournament, eliminating England on
But Scolari's rougher edges occasionally surfaced.
Portugal's second-round match against the Netherlands in
Germany will be remembered as one of the most unsavoury World
Cup games ever.
Throughout the tournament, Scolari would wildly gesticulate
on the touchline at every refereeing decision against his side
and, in what appeared an orchestrated move, substitutes and team
officials would leap off the bench and do the same.
Scolari's famous temper erupted during a Euro 2008
qualifying game against Serbia when he aimed a punch at Ivica
Dragutinovic after being pushed by the player.
After six years with Portugal, he took the plunge with
Chelsea in a league he had often praised for its
Seven months on, having barely had time to get to grips with
the language and the climate let alone build a team, Scolari has
discovered that football in the Premier League has become almost
as volatile as in his native Brazil.
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