RIO DE JANEIRO - For a team wanting to win the Brazilian championship, an essential first step would appear to be to hire Muricy Ramalho as coach.
A disciple of former Brazil coach Tele Santana, Ramalho helped Fluminense end a 26-year wait for their second Brazilian title on Sunday.
It was Ramalho's fourth title in five years, having steered Sao Paulo to three in a row from 2006 to 2008.
This season's victory, which Ramalho said had been the hardest of his career due to injuries to key players like captain Fred and experienced midfielder Deco, must taste extra special after he turned down an invitation to ditch Fluminense for the Brazil team.
Chosen by the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) to replace 2010 World Cup coach Dunga after Brazil's quarter-final defeat by the Netherlands in South Africa, Ramalho did not accept the job because Fluminense would not release him from his contract.
"It takes a madman like me to do something like that," Ramalho told reporters after Fluminense beat Guarani 1-0 in Rio on Sunday to clinch the title.
"To refuse the Brazil team before a World Cup in Brazil, without the pressure of having to play the qualifiers and being able to train the best players in the world, is not an easy decision. But I am and always will be faithful to my principles," he said.
"And all's well, today I'm very happy, I sleep calmly and can say with pride to young people: 'always do the right thing for in the end you'll be rewarded," added Ramalho, who began his career as assistant to Brazil's 1982 World Cup coach Santana at Sao Paulo in the 1990s.
Known for fielding efficient teams, especially in defence, and being grumpy in interviews, Ramalho is the most successful coach in the Brazilian championship since it was first played under a league format in 2003. It was previously played on a knockout basis.
He has won half the championships played so far in that format, as well as getting a second place with Internacional in 2005 and fifth with Palmeiras last year.
Part of his success is put down to the positive influence he exerts on his players with proof of that the appearance of the squad during the news conference after Sunday's last match when he was cheered and had cold water thrown over him.
"I think that's proof of the good atmosphere that we've always had in this squad. Players don't celebrate like that when they don't feel affection for the coach," he said.comments