BBC Television's World Cup analyst Leonardo has been given an exclusive interview with Luiz
Felipe Scolari during which the Portugal manager has explained, for the first time, his decision to turn down the chance to manage England.
Scolari also speaks frankly in defence of Brazilian striker Ronaldo, about his hopes for Portugal in Germany and compares managing Portugal and Brazil.
Leonardo interviewed Scolari as part of tonight's BBC Match
of the Day coverage
(BBC ONE World Cup Match of the Day Live - Japan
v Brazil, Thursday 22 June,
During the interview Scolari claimed that the FA's
need to appoint a coach before the World Cup made it impossible for
him to accept the position.
He also explained it would be wrong for him to agree to manage England during the World Cup because he could not ask his Portuguese players to "die for Portugal" while he had agreed to manage England after the tournament.
Additionally, Scolari explains that not being able to bring his staff from Portugal to be his backroom team was an important factor in the decision, although he has not ruled out managing England in the future should the opportunity arise when he has no contractual commitments.
The two Brazilians know each other well, Leonardo having played under Scolari in 2001 when he was manager of Brazil. Leonardo was a World Cup winner with Brazil in 1994 and played in all seven games of their World Cup run in 1998.
When questioned by Leonardo about whether he was proud to be asked by the English
FA to coach England Scolari said:
"[Being coach of England] is a dream for every coach in
the world and I was very happy when it happened. [The FA] were very correct about
"Everything happened in a very good atmosphere,
the FA did everything officially, and they contacted the Portuguese
Federation asking them if they can talk with me.
"I really liked the people I met from the FA. The Portuguese Federation President always knew what was going on. Everything was going well but we stopped at a crucial point for both [of us].
"They needed to announce the new England coach
in a period that was impossible for me. I have a contract until 31st
July with Portugal. I did not use the situation to sign a new contract
with Portugal. My contract runs out on the 31st July.
"We created a very good relationship but the problem was, the person I am, I
couldn't decide to be a coach of another country before a World Cup when I was
representing Portugal. Imagine if I meet England during the World Cup and I have
to say to my players, 'Die for Portugal'.
"I only can say to my players what
I really feel. Perhaps in Europe it's normal but I am Brazilian and I didn't
feel good in that situation.
"We tried to create new alternatives but I decided that before the World Cup it was impossible. It created in Portugal a situation that I didn't like and I didn't feel good. It was very hard for me to take the decision.
"Also I wanted to bring my staff to support me in my job and this possibility was not very clear. I made my decision on the airplane coming home. I called my staff and I communicated my decision and they were with me. I called the Portuguese team manager and I did the same.
"Then I called my President and my family to say
that I would honour my contract until the end of the World Cup like
I agreed before, with no compromises to anybody because this is my
project, this is my goal.
"I desire the best for England, I very much like the people I met from the FA. I hope people understand the situation and one day, why not, I can coach the English team, when I am free."
When Leonardo asked about Ronaldo, who Scolari managed when he was top scorer in the 2002 World Cup, the Brazilian said:
"[He had] a lot of injuries in the last month with Real Madrid and 20, 25 days is not enough time to recover before a World Cup. Now he needs to beware of injuries in the World Cup.
"In the Portuguese team we had a lot of players that arrived after the season injured and they are only recovering to good condition now after two to three matches.
"Ronaldo needs time and he will grow up with the
team, probably the third or fourth match. He is important. He decides
matches, if he has two chances, he will score one. He's not 100%
but even if he's 60% and he makes a difference.
"When I went to the Inter camp in Italy before 2002 World Cup to ask about Ronaldo's injury with Hector Cuper, the coach told me, if you want to win World Cup you have to select Ronaldo. Even if he's not 100% his 60% is better than a lot of players at 150%. When you have to decide matches he's always there."
Scolari confirmed that he is looking to reach the quarter-finals and a potential showdown in Gelsenkirchen with England.
"The FIFA ranking of Portugal is seventh. What I can ask them is to arrive in the last eight. If my team arrive in the last eight then we'll take it match by match. We try to organise what we can do in the last matches.
"Because of Portugal's history, the tradition
of football, you have to create the winning spirit. We have to go
step by step but already they are already amongst the 16 best teams."
Leonardo also asked how he compared the pressure of being Brazilian coach and Portuguese coach, and also how he compared the 2002 Brazil with that of 2006.
"There's always a big pressure being an international manager but in Brazil it's a very, very big pressure because I am Brazilian and when you are in your country the relationship is different.
"In Portugal, after three and a half years, I
am no longer foreign; 90% of the Portuguese understand and
accept me because I have created a good atmosphere but I'm still
Brazilian. Today I have minimum difficulties when they talk about
[my Brazilian] nationality."
[Regards Brazil 2002 v 2006] "This team now is more technical, more talented. I was appointed as Brazil coach less than one year before 2002 and the qualification you remember well. Before 2002 I tried to construct a group and then they had a lot of difficulties to qualify, we didn't qualify until the last match.
"So, the group we created was like a family, family Scolari. Now that team are consecrated. The players went on to win everything with the national team and with their clubs: the Copa America Cup, the America Cup, qualification matches, they won everything.
"Now the team has 13, 15 players who played in
2002. If you make a list of the ten best players in the world perhaps
you can find four or five Brazilians. Technically they are very good.
But this team in 2002 was created with team spirit and it helps
to break down some difficulties."
To conclude, he was asked to look back on his life and whether he thought he would be where he was now.
Scolari responded: "I am 57 years old. I started playing football at 18 years old. I started in amateur league, village teams. I never thought that I can arrive where I am now as a coach.
"I was already happy and felt satisfied when I
played in minor leagues. I was already happy and satisfied when I
became a physical education teacher in a school so I am really happy
with what I am doing now. I am a happy person, satisfied with my
"I live for my family, for football and for my
friends. If there are a million people on earth that are really happy
and satisfied I am one of them. I don't know why God chose me to
be like that but I am."