Chamusca: Al Taawoun's colourful coach who signed off on a high

The iconic yellow tie may be gone, but Pericles Chamusca won’t be quickly forgotten in the hallways of Al Taawoun after guiding the club to a fourth-place finish in the 2023-24 Roshn Saudi League – and, with it, qualification for the AFC Champions League Two.

The 58-year-old manager, with a list of clubs as long as his arm, announced his departure from Al Taawoun this week, right after the conclusion of the RSL campaign. The Brazilian had spent two seasons in charge at the Buraidah-based club.

“Today I say goodbye to the club that has been my home for the last few years,” Chamusca wrote in a heartfelt message on Instagram. “It is with a heart full of gratitude and a sense of accomplishment that I leave Al Taawoun today and go seek a new goal.

“Thank you very much to everyone who made our time at Taawoun so blessed. Thanks to the entire staff, the players who I spent my time here, the fans who always supported us and showed us a lot of affection, but especially the club president, Dr Saud Al Rashoodi.

“I thank you for your trust in fully handing over the decisions of the football department to us, creating an environment of professionalism and strong identity. I am grateful and blessed for everything we have experienced together. Now it's time to seek new goals and dream new dreams.”

It won’t just be the football, and the friends made through that, that the gregarious Chamusca will miss in Buraidah, either.

“Actually, it’s a coincidence, a very good coincidence, because I like the dates from Buraidah,” he revealed earlier this season, in an interview with the RSL. “And then I came to work in Al Taawoun and get to enjoy the dates that I like the most.”

Chamusca arrived at Al Taawoun back in 2022 after they only just managed to survive relegation at the end of the 2021-22 season, then finishing a point above the drop zone.

They were a club that had yo-yoed between top-five and bottom-five finishes in the Saudi top flight, but his arrival brought a sense of stability. In his two campaigns there, Al Taawoun came home fifth and then fourth, this season’s success securing a return to continental competition, too.

For a club without the resources of some of the league’s biggest, it represents a significant achievement, especially finishing ahead of the star-studded Al Ittihad side that came into the campaign as defending champions. The Jeddah club were fifth.

The accomplishment is not lost on Al Taawoun president, Dr Al Rashoodi.

“As your time with our team comes to the end, I want to convey my heartfelt appreciation for your years of dedicated service and unwavering efforts,” Al Rashoodi wrote on Instagram. “Your commitment to our club has been truly admirable, and your professionalism in representing our team has not gone unnoticed.

“Throughout the ups and downs, you have been steadfast leaders, motivating our team to push their limits. Your impact will be lasting, and your influence will continue to be felt even after your departure.

“Your forward-thinking approach and tireless dedication have made a profound impact. You have propelled our club to new heights, and for that, we are deeply thankful.”

It was a campaign that started on a positive note, with a win over Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr in the second game of the season. It proved a momentum Al Taawoun carried all the way through the 2023-24 RSL - and doing so in Chamusca’s typically adventurous style.

Always a colourful character on the sidelines, he won’t be lost to Saudi football, however, with ambitious First Division club, Neom Sports Club, quickly announcing Chamusca as their new manager as they eye a rapid promotion to the RSL.

Al Taawoun was far from his first rodeo in Saudi Arabia, though. Chamusca had also worked with Al Faisaly, Al Hilal and Al Shabab. In an itinerant career, he spent spells in his native Brazil, as well as Japan, Qatar and the UAE.

In total, he is now onto his 32nd club in a coaching career spanning 30 years. He is the walking and talking definition, in the nicest way, of a journeyman, keen to broaden horizons, personally and professionally.

Everywhere he has gone, however, he has done it in his particular way: bedded to a philosophy of attacking football and winning, as he sees it, the right way.

“Every time in my coach’s life, I like to play. I want good results, but you have to play good too,” Chamusca said in an interview in 2019 when he was in charge of Al Faisaly.

“This is important for me at every club I have worked in. I have always tried to create quality football, never just for results.”

While it might not be just for results, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t achieved them. Because he has.

In Japan, at the unfancied Oita Trinita, Chamusca led them to what remains their highest finish in the Japanese top flight - fourth in 2008 – while also winning the J League Cup in the same year, knocking out more fancied opposition along the way.

At Al Arabi in Qatar, he won the Sheikh Jassim Cup, while in Saudi Arabia his crowning achievement came when he was in charge of Al Faisaly. The club, relatively unfancied, completed a fairytale run to the King’s Cup crown in 2020-21, in the process qualifying for the AFC Champions League for the first time in their history.

Their victory in that King’s Cup final, ironically, came against Al Taawoun.

Al-Shabab v Al-Taawoun - Saudi Pro League

The success was always going to garner attention, and Chamusca was soon courted by Al Hilal. Although ultimately, he was there for only a brief spell, he described it as a “great time with good results”. Chamusca then moved to fellow Riyadh side, Al Shabab, whom he helped to a top-four finish in the 2021-22 season.

Now, he’s in Neom, but only having lifted Al Taawoun to a memorable campaign in the sparkling new era of the RSL.

As one chapter closes, another one begins. And, after giving so much to the RSL over the past six years, there is surely more to come in the Kingdom from Pericles Chamusca.