Will Luiz Felipe Scolari continue working as a coach? This questioning will persist in the coming days. The final of the Copa Libertadores may have been the last act of the five-time champion for the Brazilian team, who was hired by Athletico-PR to be director and became a coach out of necessity. With a successful career and a style of his own, Felipão did a lot on the edge of the field, and now he can migrate outside of it.
“I’m already doing this work every day in the CT do Caju and outside as well, with meetings. I’m doing what was proposed by our president [Mario Celso Petraglia], which I figured I could do by the end of the year. Seeing the club’s organizational chart, seeing where I can play in the youth categories, where I can influence with the coaches… A series of details,” he said at a press conference in June.
Much has happened since then. At the helm of the Hurricane, he went to the Libertadores final, but failed to win his third continental title when he was overcome by Flamengo by 1-0, last Saturday (29), in Guayaquil (EQU).
It may have been the last act of a successful career. Scolari imagines that the end of the cycle as a coach should happen by his choice, not by reflection of the market. The transition, already underway, cannot be seen as definitive, but it sounds like a conclusion of the ‘Scolari style’. The change is heading towards the turn of the year. In 2023, Felipão can exchange the reserved for the offices of Arena da Baixada. But he himself was not definitive about it when he gave a press conference on the eve of the game.
“No, years more, no. You can be sure not. I’ll talk to my family, naturally. If we get the victory tomorrow [sábado]I will have to talk to a person, who is Mario Celso Petraglia [presidente do Athletico], and know what he wants. I came here with two situations, and one of them can be resolved tomorrow. Of course I have to talk to my family. In these years I have already driven in seven different countries, my family members were with me in all of them, I have lived with them for many years”, he said hours before the decision.
Felipão was not a very successful player, but he always stood out for his leadership. Toward the end of his career, he started studying Physical Education and his first job as a coach was at the base of CSA, the club where he stopped as an athlete, in 1980.
From the CSA, Felipão went to command the under-20 of Juventude. On a tour of the professional squad to Asia, coach Daltro Menezes had health problems and Scolari took over. The performance was impeccable: seven wins in seven games. Upon his return to Brazil, he was appointed by the “faithful squire” Flávio Murtosa and became coach of Brazil’s main team in Pelotas in the 1983 Campeonato Gaúcho. Brazil was a finalist that year.
As he left a good impression on the tour, Felipão was hired by Al Shabab, from Saudi Arabia. He was runner-up in the country where he worked for three years, until he returned to Juventude. The biggest step was the invitation from Grêmio. And the first title was the 1987 Gaucho.
After passing through Goiás, Felipão was champion in the Kuwait national team, returned to Coritiba and gained notoriety in Criciúma, where he was the winner of the 1991 Copa do Brasil. Scolari then returned to the Middle East and directed Al-Ahli and Qadsia. In 1993, the gaucho rejoined Grêmio. And this new passage was remarkable.
Felipão won six titles in three and a half years at Grêmio, three state titles, Campeonato Brasileiro, Copa do Brasil and Libertadores. In the final of the Worlds, he lost to Ajax (HOL). On the rise in Brazil, came a new experience abroad, now at Jubilo Iwata. The experience in Japan was short lived and the new challenge would be Palmeiras, in 1997.
In Verdão, Felipão had another long and successful job. He again won the Copa do Brasil and Libertadores, as well as the Copa Mercosul and the Rio-São Paulo Tournament. In the final of the World Cup, Palmeiras was surpassed by Manchester United (ING).
In 2000, Scolari was elected best South American coach by 200 journalists in a poll by the Uruguayan newspaper “El País”. After Palmeiras, he took over Cruzeiro, where he won the Copa Sul-Minas. And all this history of conquests led him to the Brazilian national team in 2001. The following year, he won the World Cup with 100% success. 16 titles in 26 finals.
From Brazil, Felipão went to the Portugal national team and also made history. In 2003, he took the team to the unprecedented final of the European Championship, with the runner-up to Greece. Portugal went to the 2006 World Cup and was among the top four. Scolari stayed until 2008, when he accepted an invitation from Chelsea (ING).
At Chelsea, the captain only lasted seven months and interrupted the sequence of lasting and successful work. Frustrated, he headed for Bunyodkor in Uzbekistan. There, he was the league’s undefeated champion.
In 2010, Felipão returned to Brazil and won his fourth Copa do Brasil. In 2012, he returned to the Brazilian national team, won the Confederations Cup and finished fourth in the 2014 World Cup, when Brazil lost the semi-final to Germany by an incredible 7-1.
Hurt, Felipão returned to one of his homes, Grêmio, in 2014, when he was seventh in the Brasileirão and runner-up in Rio Grande do Sul in 2015. Then came another adventure in Asia, this time at Guanghzou Evergrande, in China. He stayed two and a half years and won seven titles.
In 2018, Felipão directed Palmeiras for the third time and was Brazilian champion. In 2019, he was fired. At Cruzeiro, in 2020, he saved the team from relegation to Serie C. The following year, Scolari returned to Grêmio, where he did a bad job and was fired. And since May 2022, the experienced coach has been at Athletico.
Faithful to his homes, Felipão alternated between Cruzeiro, Grêmio and Palmeiras in Brazil, until Athletico de Petraglia insisted on his signing. He arrived as coordinator, but took over the team for an indefinite period and was staying, staying, staying, until reaching a new Libertadores final.