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Scolari counts Chelsea cash but keeps eyes on Euro prize

SoccerNews in European Championships 14 Jun 2008

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Luiz Felipe Scolari insisted on Saturday that his move to Chelsea, which he admitted was partly for financial gain, would not distract him or his Portugal squad from their bid to win Euro 2008.

“It is not going to change anything at the moment,” Scolari said. “I am here with my body and soul, completely involved to the end and I hope we can get to another final.”

Speaking for the first time since his appointment as Avram Grant's successor was announced, Scolari said his negotiations with Chelsea had been conducted in the full knowledge of his current employers after they had failed to strike a deal with sponsors to finance a new contract for him that may have allowed him to extend his stay in Portugal.

Asked if that meant he was going to Chelsea for the money, Scolari responded: “Yes, that is one of the reasons.”

He added: “It was not only because they (the Portuguese federation) did not get the appropriate sums. I am 59 and I don't want to work as a coach until I'm 70. I want to retire in four or five more years, so money was an issue but not the only one.”

Scolari said his decision to move to London had also been motivated by a desire for his son to study in England and for a change after five and a half years in charge of Portugal.

“Five and a half years is a record for me in a job. It is good to change things.

“And then these kind of opportunities do not come along every day.”

Scolari said that his reputation as a tough disciplinarian capable of sorting out differences with players with his fists was wide of the mark.

“You have to ask my wife,” Scolari said. “She is the one who knows best. I am what you see: I like to play, I like to joke, I like a good atmosphere, to play with my players.

“I feel comfortable anywhere in the world because I'm someone who always has good relations with the people around me.

“I'm not someone who likes to go to parties, I am shy.”

Scolari insisted that he had sufficient English for his new role, although there was little evidence of it in his press conference here.

“When I work with my players, I speak English, Portuguese, German, Italian, you name it, because football is one language.”

The Brazilian went on to defend his record as a successful club coach, dismissing a suggestion he had spent too long in charge of national sides.

“I think I'm a good manager, relatively good. The results of the squads I've coached speak for themselves. I have got my weak points but can't tell you my pluses or minuses. Ask the players I have worked with.

“I spent 20 years as a club manager, so I think I know the ins and outs of club management.”

Portugal players Nuno Gomes and Armando Petit doggedly refused to make any comment about the impact of the coach's impending departure on the squad.

Gomes was prepared to be drawn on the qualities that had made Scolari, who led Brazil to World Cup glory in 2002 and Portugal to the final of Euro 2004, such a respected coach.

“Apart from being a coach, he is a friendly guy for the players,” Gomes said. “For us it is important to have those human qualities. He is a good psychologist, for us that is also important.”

Having beaten Turkey and the Czech Republic in their first two matches, Portual are already sure of their place in the quarter-finals and are virtually certain to finish top of their group, a situation which will give Scolari the chance to rest key players for Sunday's match against the Swiss.

“We have to think about the next games,” Scolari said. “We have to use the reserves we have built up in our bank account.”

Presuming they do top their group, Portugal will face Germany, Austria or Poland in their quarter-final clash.

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