In his second spell with Flamengo (1989-1993), after playing and shining in Italy, Júnior needed to assume a different role in the team, specially after Zico's retirement: leading Flamengo's midfield and the young players. In the early 1990s, Júnior earned two nicknames: "Maestro Júnior" and "Vovô garoto" ("Young Grandpa"). Even though he was almost 40 years old, he played at such high level in 1992 that he won the MVP award (Bola de Ouro) of Brazil's National First Division, received applauses and praises from the Rubronegro's opponents, returned to the Seleção to play as a midfielder and was even seriously cogitated for the 1994 WC. The Maestro (the all-time leader in matches played for Flamengo with 800+) was the inspiration and idol for the last great generation of young players that came from Flamengo's academy (up to 2017). It featured good to legendary players (starters and reserves) like Nélio, Piá, Marquinhos, Júnior Baiano (1998 WC starter), Djalminha (one of the most skilled football players ever), Paulo Nunes (legend for Grêmio and Palmeiras and a 1997 Copa América player for Brazil), Sávio (at the begining of his career he was considered Zico's successor) and Marcelinho Carioca (the most important player in Corinthians' history). Palmeiras was 1 year away from its 3rd golden age (after the "Academias" in the 1960s and early 1970s): the Parmalat era. The Verdão featured legendary goalkeeper Carlos, César Sampaio (1998 WC starter and a true Palmeiras legend), the very good Edu Marangon (played for Brazil in the 1987 Copa América), Jorginho and Evair (one of the most successful Brazilian forwards of the 1990s and a legend for Guarani, Atalanta, Palmeiras and Vasco, he came very close to playing a WC for Brazil, but would end up being left out of the final list in 1994). The newly acquired Luís Henrique (1991 Copa América player) from EC Bahia was the highly regarded novelty for Palmeiras. He was considered to be a sure name in the final list for the 1994 WC, but a serious injury ended his dream.