Fiery Big Phil shows FA what it missed

WITH a flurry of charismatic gestures and stirring words Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari demonstrated to England's FA just what they missed when they failed to land their No 1 target for the top job.

On the eve of England's World Cup quarter-final against Portugal, Scolari apologised to anyone he might have "hurt" when turning down the job he claims he was offered by the FA.

He revealed that one day he might yet be England manager if a deal could be done with the FA. And, on today's World Cup quarter-final against England he found some words which resonated, even allowing for translation.

Scolari said: "You have to put fire in your belly. With the English fighting spirit and the Portuguese fighting spirit, it is going to be an emotional and a tight game. I believe in our efforts and have confidence we will win if we play with the same spirit."

Whether Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo will feature is in doubt. Ronaldo has not trained for the past two days as he struggles to recover from the thigh injury he suffered in the stormy second-round tie against Holland.

"He may or may not play," was Scolari's enigmatic assessment of Ronaldo's chances.

Inevitably, as the Brazilian prepared to pit his wits once more with Sven-Goran Eriksson, having emerged victorious on the two occasions they have met in major championships, the questions returned to the FA's attempts to recruit international football's most wanted coach.

Did he regret turning down the England job?

Scolari: "No. People like me like to respect their contract. If my 'no' to the English FA hurt someone, I am sorry, but I always respect my contracts and stick to them. After 31 July, I am a free coach so then I can speak to people."

Would he take the England job in the future?

"I was very proud about the proposal of the English FA, but the timing was not correct. I have some ideals in my life and I try to show those to my players, so I cannot break them. In the future, who knows? If the English FA comes with another proposal perhaps we can do a deal."

He played down any rivalry with Eriksson and denied there was any secret to beating England, which he did with Brazil at the World Cup in 2002 and with Portugal at Euro 2004: "I am going to tell the players to enjoy playing against a nice team like England. To enjoy being in the eight best teams in the world.''

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