Émerson Leão

“Leão” redirects here. For other uses, see Leão (disambiguation).

Émerson Leão (born on July 11, 1949, in Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo) is a Brazilian manager and former football player. He is one of the all-time best Brazilian goalkeepers. A documentary video produced by FIFA, FIFA Fever, called him the third-most impressive defence player of all time.

As a player

He was World Cup champion in 1970 as a reserve player, when he was twenty years old. He then disputed the two following World Cups as first team player. He was the first Brazilian goalkeeper in history to be team captain (during the 1978 World Cup). Dida repeated the feat in 2006 in a group stage match against Japan. In the 1986 World Cup, Leão was a reserve player.

He played 105 times for the Brazilian national football team. At the club level, he played for several clubs, his longest term being at Palmeiras, where he won several titles, like Campeonato Brasileiro and Campeonato Paulista.

Honours as a player

As a manager

Leão has been a manager since 1987. He was São Paulo manager in 2005, winning the Campeonato Paulista of that year. He then moved to Vissel Kobe of Japan, where he stayed for only four matches. On July 18, 2005 he became Palmeiras' manager, a position he held until March, 2006. His peak as a manager was his second period at Santos, between 2002 and 2004, when he won the Campeonato Brasileiro in 2002, and was runner-up in both Copa Libertadores de América and Campeonato Brasileiro in 2003. Leão is often seen as a hardliner, since he demands perfect physical shape of his players, along with discipline and mutual respect. He is not really fond of having extremely famous players in his teams, since he believes that this might cause relationship problems within the squad.

He was Brazilian national football team manager from November 15, 2000 until June 9, 2001. Of eleven matches, he won four, drew four, and lost three. Like his predecessor Vanderlei Luxemburgo, he struggled having top players available for qualifying matches. He tried to center the team around Romário and younger players with hardly any international experience. He also became the first sitting coach to travel to Europe to assess his players' activities there, where he was asked by the Europeans to not release Rivaldo and Roberto Carlos for matches that were not crucial.

Some people say that he should have resigned when Brazil was forced to send a second-rated team to the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup in Korea and Japan, but he stayed on for a fourth-place finish that included two losses to France and Australia. These two losses contributed to a four-match losing streak that was the first to Brazil since 1921. As he was about to leave Narita Airport for a 24 hour flight back to Brazil following the tournament, he was handed a termination letter.

While commanding the Brazilian national team, he often promised attractive play along with great results, but the team failed to follow through. He was harshly criticized during this period for calling up largely unknown players.

Honours as a manager


  • Enciclopédia do Futebol Brasileiro, Volume 2 - Lance, Rio de Janeiro: Aretê Editorial S/A, 2001.
  • Seleção Brasileira - 90 Anos - Rio de Janeiro: MAUAD, 2004.

External links

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