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"Portugal vs Netherlands was absurd; a game with absolutely no fair play!" – Phil Scolari recalls four games that changed his life

Luiz Felipe Scolari
(Image credit: Getty)

Luiz Felipe Scolari, known in the British media as "Big Phil", is a World Cup-winning manager; mastermind of Brazil's 2002 triumph in Japan and South Korea. 

A defender during his short playing career, Scolari later became one of the world's most prominent and successful managers. He led his home nation to two World Cups in two separate stints and Portugal to the final of Euro 2004. As a club boss, Scolari is known for his short spell at Chelsea, his only post in European domestic football. 

Here, he tells FourFourTwo about the matches that changed his life...

This article first appeared Issue 307 of FourFourTwo. Subscribe now! (opens in new tab)

1. Criciuma 0-0 Gremio (1991, Copa do Brasil Final)

“This match began my path of winning important titles. We, Criciuma, were at home to Gremio in the second leg of the Copa do Brasil final. Gremio were very strong but we drew 0-0: that won us the title because we’d scored an away goal in the first leg, drawing 1-1. We were undefeated from beginning to end [10 matches] and winning the tournament without losing a game was a historic achievement. It was also the first important title won by a team from the state of Santa Catarina, and my first ever major title as a coach.”

2. Palmeiras 2-1 Deportivo Cali (1999 Copa Libertadores Final)

“It was the second leg in the final of the Copa Libertadores, the most important competition in South America. We were at home, having lost the first fixture 1-0 in Colombia. There was so much tension – and then we hit the bar with our first kick in the shootout. But after that we converted all of our penalties, and when it came to their fifth penalty, Martin Zapata fired it just wide. We were the champions. It was special, because it was the only time Palmeiras have won the competition. I don’t know how to measure it but I believe that game, that title, changed my career. Being able to win the Libertadores was something wonderful.”

3. Germany 0-2 Brazil  (2002 World Cup Final)

“The World Cup final. The most important match for the Brazilian national team. It was a very good performance – we were well organised, we were compact, and we didn’t let the German team play as they had played in the competition up to that point. For instance, Ronaldo didn’t like defending but he also helped in this game. We had a great team spirit. Germany had only two goalscoring chances: one free-kick and one shot that Marcos saved with his left hand. Ronaldo scored twice and we were world champions. It was unforgettable.”

4. Portugal 1-0 Netherlands (2006 World Cup Last 16)

“This was a very unusual match – different from what we were used to. It ended with 12 yellow cards and four red cards. Five minutes into the game, Khalid Boulahrouz committed an absurd foul on Cristiano Ronaldo, who had to leave the pitch, and the referee gave Boulahrouz a yellow card [Mark van Bommel had already been booked after just 90 seconds]. It was a South American football climate; a Copa Libertadores match. It was a game with absolutely no fair play. In the end, we won 1-0 thanks to a goal by Maniche and advanced to the quarter-finals of the World Cup.”

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Chris joined FourFourTwo in 2015 and has reported from 20 countries, in places as varied as Jerusalem and the Arctic Circle. He's interviewed Pele, Zlatan and Santa Claus (it's a long story), as well as covering Euro 2020 and the Clasico. He previously spent 10 years as a newspaper journalist, and completed the 92 in 2017.