FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Luiz Felipe Scolari didn't hesitate when he saw Neymar lying on the ground, his face buried in his hands, crying. The coach calmly walked over and picked the player up, pulled him to his chest and embraced him for a long time.
Brazil had narrowly escaped elimination against Chile in the second round of the World Cup. The young Brazil star had just played one of the most difficult games of his life.
Scolari knew he had to be there for him. The same way the coach has been there for everyone else in this young Brazilian team carrying the responsibility of winning the World Cup at home.
Players say "Big Phil" has been like a father to them at the World Cup.
"He is a friend, he is like a dad," Brazil captain Thiago Silva said. "You can always talk to him if you are going through a difficult time. He is the type of coach who will do anything to try to make you feel better, no matter what."
Big Phil has won the players over with the right balance of discipline and support.
"He is always there for us," defender David Luiz said. "He is there to advise us, to help us, to praise us, to reprimand us. He is very transparent in what he does and what he says. That's how he works. We have the liberty to go talk to him whenever we want."
After leading Brazil to the title in the 2002 World Cup, the charismatic coach was seen as the perfect man to command Brazil in its quest for a sixth world trophy. He was a favorite among local media and fans who knew the tournament at home would require someone special in charge.
"We don't see Felipao as a boss," right back Dani Alves said. "He is our leader. A boss will give you orders, a leader will work with you, stand in front of everything for you."
The Brazilian confederation hired Scolari saying that his experience and uncanny motivational skills would be crucial for the Selecao.
Silva saw those skills at work before the team's opening match at this World Cup. He had to choke back tears when he started talking about Scolari in a recent news conference.
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