Recognized as one of the greatest coaches in the history of Brazilian football, Luiz Felipe Scolari will visit Caxias do Sul this Wednesday, the city where he began his football career.
Athletico, under his command, will face Juventude at 19:00 at the Alfredo Jaconi Stadium. Felipão has known the stadium well since the time of Caxias, as a player, which marked the beginning of his career as a coach, already in the alviverde archive.
Born in Passo Fundon, in the northern state of Rio Grande do Sul, Felipão started playing football for the Aimoré youth team in São Leopoldo at the age of 16. He left the club to defend Caxias in 1973, in a very special agreement. At the time, the Grená team was looking to strengthen the team with midfielder Maurício, who also defended Índio Capilé. The then-defender, who was in charge of his teammate’s career in addition to playing, conditioned the midfielder’s departure, and the deal was closed.
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Felipão in a match in Caxias in the 70’s – Photo: Arquivo / Agência RBS
The signing by chance eventually became one of the most notable in the history of the group. Felipão spent six years at Centenário and set a club record with over 330 games. Despite not having the credentials of a great player, the defender of the hour stood out for his rigid style and strong locker room leadership. Former winger Paulo Roberto Segatto remembers the time when they shared the locker room.
– Felipão was a great teammate and his strong point was the air ball. Nowadays, I think he could play on any team. It has been a great pleasure to work with you at Caxias. At the time, I also had the opportunity to go to the CSA with him, but I ended up staying for private reasons, he recalls.
Along with Segatto, Felipão wrote a beautiful story with garnet colors. In 1976, both were present on an unforgettable day for fans. On September 12 of that year, they took part in the inauguration of the Estádio Centenário in a 2-1 victory over Internacional.
Felipão Caxias after the match against Grêmio – Photo: RBS Archive / Agency
Goalkeeper Bagatini was also present at the important date for the Caxias do Sul club. Formed by Grená himself, the player saw the full anecdote of Felipão at the club in the 1970s. In addition to the four-line collaboration, two great friends were formed and they maintain the relationship to this day. Concentrating on the centenary, before the match against Palmeiras, for the 1976 Brazilian Cup, he remembers the historical episode he experienced.
– The concentration was a large hall divided by half a wall and each room had four beds. In my room, Felipão, Tatu and Jurandir were sleeping. I was cross-legged and out of bed. When they saw that my feet and toes were out, Jurandir and Tatu put a newspaper strip between my thumb and forefinger and set their ends on fire. The fire consumed the whole newspaper and started burning my fingers. I woke up shocked and threw away all the covers. However, the silence was overwhelming. The moment I ran to the bathroom, the players burst out laughing. Without ever saying it, I was sure that Felipão was a big person in charge of the joke, says the former goalkeeper.
After becoming one of the idols in the history of the Grená club, Luiz Felipe Scolari left the club to defend his main opponent, Juventude, in 1980, where he remained for several months. At the end of his career he played for Novo Hamburgo and CSA, Alagoas. In the Northeastern team, he was the first and only player to win the 1981 Alagoano.
From teacher to youth coach
The following season, Felipão retired as a player and began his career as a coach, lasting only seven games at CSA. Rejected, Felipão returned to the land he had embraced, Caxias do Sul. Due to his training in Physical Education, he began teaching in the city’s regular schools, such as Cristovão de Mendoza and La Salle Carmo.
Felipão’s records at Juventude – Photo: Arquivo / EC Juventude
For about two years, he stayed away from professional football until an invitation from Juventude, Caxias’ great rival, returned to the field. In 1983, Felipão was invited to coach the youth team. In the same year, Alviverde went on an excursion to Asia. However, before boarding, coach Diede Lameiro had a health problem. Suddenly, Felipão took over the team and won every game. On his return, he was named head coach.
Four years later, as a result of his good work, especially in the Caxias do Sul team, Felipão saw his career change with the proposal to take over Grêmio, the club for winning the Gauchão cap in his debut season. The rest of the story, with Brasileirão, Copa do Brasil, Libertadores and World Cup titles, is well known to all fans.
This Wednesday, Felipão will revisit many of those memories of the city that marked his football career. Juventude and Athletico face off for the 10th round of the Brazilian Championship, at 19:00, Alfredo Jaconi. Alviverde is 18th with 10 points and Hurricane is eighth with 13 points.