‘Big Phil’ almost became England coach in 2006.
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has admitted that he still regrets not becoming the England manager ahead of the two nations’ meeting at Wembley on Wednesday.
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Scolari was in talks about becoming England coach in 2006 before electing to stay with Portugal.
Coincidentally, England and Portugal went on to meet in the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, with Scolari’s side prevailing on penalties.
Speaking on Tuesday, the 64-year-old said he was looking forward to seeing some of the players with whom he worked during his brief spell as manager of Chelsea, and also hinted that his desire to manage England still burned.
“Of course it hurts a lot, because I would have loved to have been coach of England. Who wouldn’t?” he told reporters.
“I hope I’ll have an opportunity tomorrow (Wednesday) to talk to (Frank) Lampard and Ashley Cole.
“I wish all the best to England’s manager and players on their path of innovation. And you never know what might happen one day. Maybe.”
Appointed in November following the dismissal of Mano Menezes, Scolari has no time to lose if he is to turn his team into a side capable of triumphing at the 2014 World Cup on home soil.
Having led Brazil to their fifth World Cup title in 2002, he has returned with the aim of securing a sixth world crown and exorcising the ghost of their loss to Uruguay in the decisive game of the last World Cup they hosted, in 1950.
Scolari will have just one training session with his squad before they take to the field against Roy Hodgson’s England, but he says he cannot use that as an excuse for a poor performance.
“We’ve only had one training session, but 60 to 70 or even 80 percent of the players have been capped before, so it’s not a brand new team,” he said.
“I can’t hide behind the fact that I’ve only had one training session. I’m ready to take criticism based on what people see in training and in the game. We’re ready to take that challenge.”
He added: “We’re not seeing this as a friendly game. We see this as preparation for the World Cup. There are no friendly games any more. Every game counts.”
Scolari, who revealed that Chelsea centre-back David Luiz must undergo a fitness test on a calf injury, said he was expecting a “hard” game against an England side “that is very fit and has been together for a long time”.
As part of his quest to inject extra sparkle into Brazil’s play, Scolari has turned to Ronaldinho, one of the stars of his 2002 team, who has not played for the national team for a year.
Now 32, the former Barcelona superstar has rediscovered form with Atletico Mineiro, but Scolari says he will be given no special favours.
“Ronaldinho is 32 but he has played a spectacular season, he has shown marvellous effort and he’s been with the national team already,” he said.
“Now it’s up to him to show that I’ve taken the right decision to cap him once again and he’ll have to show how quickly he can integrate into the team.”
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