Third time coming: Rogério Ceni returns to São Paulo

A well familiar name in Rogério Ceni has returned as São Paulo manager, making his third stint with the club where he made his name.

This will be the idol’s third stint at the club – before, as one of the most important players in the history of the São Paulo tricolor, and now, for the second time, as the team’s coach. The announcement was made on October 13, after the resignation of Argentine coach Hernán Crespo.

Ceni’s return, however, generated divergent opinions among São Paulo fans.

On social networks, some from São Paulo were excited about the possibility, but Independente – the biggest fan group related to the São Paulo tricolor – took a stand against the coach’s arrival.

In its Instagram account, Independente published that Ceni was “the last option as a coach” for the club. In addition, he showed against Crespo’s dismissal — including putting a banner in honor of the Argentine at the Morumbi stadium — and said he will not sing the name of the new coach in the remaining matches of this year’s Brasileirão until he apologizes for statements made at the time he commanded the Flamengo team.

At the time, Ceni said that the working atmosphere at Flamengo was “different”, even though he had worked for so many years at another mass club like São Paulo. The declaration was not well received by the São Paulo. After the re-debut on the 14th, in a 1-1 draw against Ceará for the Brasileirão, Ceni decided to recant, clarifying that São Paulo is his home and that the difference between the two (2) clubs is that, in São Paulo, there is a division between three (3) big clubs, unlike Rio, where the Flamengo crowd is dominant, being a “social insertion to wear the Flamengo shirt”.

Although his career as coach of the São Paulo tricolor may generate controversy, Ceni’s history as a São Paulo player is undeniable: he is the athlete who wore the tricolor shirt the most and the one who won the most titles. There were 1,237 games, several achievements — with emphasis on the two Club World Cups — and the record as the greatest goalkeeper in the history of world football with 131 goals. The good performance, however, was not repeated as a coach, at least at the first opportunity: only six (6) months in charge of the club in 2017, no official title, and his resignation after leaving the team in the relegation zone of the Brazilian Championship.

Rogério Ceni comes from good work as a coach. At Fortaleza, he became an idol and won the Serie B of the 2018 Brazilian Nationals. At Flamengo, he was champion of the 2020 Brazilian Championship.

The merry-go round of coaches in Brazilian football

Comings and goings of players and coaches have become more than common in Tupiniquim football. It’s hard to find a big club in the country that doesn’t have at least one (1) player who has played for the club before in its roster. The record holder in this case, at the moment, is Corinthians, which has six (6) players well known by their fans who returned in recent seasons for the São Paulo club.

In the case of coaches, it’s no different: eight (8) of the 20 clubs in the Serie A of the Brazilian Championship have current coaches who had already coached the club before. If we add the coaches who have worked for the clubs in other roles, this number is even more expressive. See the list below for the 11 current cases in the national football elite:

Atlético-MG: Cuca. The coach had already worked for the Minas Gerais club between 2011 and 2013, where he was champion of the Copa Libertadores da América in 2013. He returned to Galo at the beginning of the 2021 season.

Athletico-PR: Alberto Valentim. He had already worked in Hurricane as a player from 1996 to 1999 and from 2008 to 2009. He was announced as the club’s coach in October 2021.

Bahia: Guto Ferreira. He was the club’s coach between 2016 and 2017 and in 2018. He won the 2017 Northeast Cup title and returned to Salvador in October of that year.

Corinthians: Sylvinho. He played for the Parque São Jorge club between 1994 and 1999, when he won the Brasileirão in 1998. He debuted as a coach in May 2021.

Flamengo: Renato Gaucho. He had three (3) successful spells as a player for the Rio de Janeiro club in the 80s and 90s, when he won the 1987 Brasileirão. He debuted as a coach in July of that year.

Fluminense: Marcao. He played for the Rio de Janeiro club between 1999 and 2006, becoming an idol for the fans. As a coach, he had already worked as an interim coach and was hired in 2016 and 2020. He was hired again in August of this year.

Guild: Vagner Mancini. As a player, he had a great time in the tricolor gaucho in 1995, when he won the Libertadores that year. In the role of coach, he spent only two (2) months in 2008. He returned to the club in October 2021.

International: Diego Aguirre. He played for Inter between 1988 and 1989 and was champion of Rio Grande do Sul as a coach in 2015. He returned to Colorado in June 2021.

Youth: Marquinhos Santos. He has been with the club since February of this year. He worked in Caxias do Sul in 2019 and 2020, when he gained access to the Série B and Série A of the Brasileiro with Juventude.

Red Bull Bragantino: Maurício Barbieri. He worked at Red Bull Brasil, before the club’s merger with Bragantino, between 2013 and 2016. He has been with the club since September 2020.

São Paulo: Rogério Ceni. He was an idol as a player between 1990 and 2015, and failed as a coach in 2017. He returned to the club in October 2021.

How will these coaches’ current passages for their clubs be? Only the future will tell. But one thing is certain: the coming and going of Brazilian football has already become a tradition and should not stop anytime soon. Who will be the next player or coach to return to a club they’ve previously played at? We’ll have to wait and see.

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