Sport

Diego Costa – The Brazilian Spaniard

Before the summer, I bet the majority of people barely knew who Diego Costa was. Most probably had never even heard of him. He was the guy who assisted Falcao a lot last year for Atletico Madrid. How that has all changed. He was big news in the summer when it came out that Liverpool had tabled a bid which activated his release clause, and he is making the headlines now for his current electric goal scoring form and his recent decision to play for Spain instead of Brazil. But first, who is Diego Costa?

Diego da Silva was born in 1988 in Lagarto, Brazil, and started at Barcelona Esportivo Capela. His professional playing career began at the Portuguese Sporting de Braga reserves in February 2006. He, like many other South Americans, started playing football on the street, which he claims was his version of an academy. He learnt everything he knows from the street and he says this explains his desire to win at all costs.

Boys who grew up playing in academies are taught to control themselves and respect others, but no-one ever told me otherwise, I didn’t have a school to teach me this.

The street was my school. 

I was used to seeing players elbowing each other in the face and thought it was the norm.”

Costa

Last summer Liverpool met Diego Costa’s release clause of about £20 million. This meant that it was up to Costa to decide whether he would stay at Atletico, or start fresh in England. He was offered a large new contract at Atletico Madrid and decided to stay. He said that he couldn’t leave after all the difficulties he had overcome to be starting for Atletico.

I was used to seeing players elbowing each other in the face and thought it was the norm

This was surprising at the time, because similar to Suarez’s reputation in England, Costa had the reputation of being the most hated player in Spain. You only have to look as far as the derby game last year between Atletico and Real Madrid, in which Costa had fights with Alonso, Ramos and Pepe throughout the game, head-butting the latter. The very next game in the Europa League he was sent off for another head butt, which was described as “Assault” and he was given a 3 game ban. I imagine he and Suarez may have ruffled a few feathers as a partnership in England.

On current form, he is arguably the best player in the world. He is La Liga’s top goal scorer on 11 goals in 10 games, and he has also bagged a few in Europe as well. Atletico are currently second in La Liga four points off Barcelona, with a game in hand. Their team is looking very strong this season, as they seem to be coasting past teams in their domestic league, and easily dispatching Europe’s elite in the Champions League.

On current form, he is arguably the best player in the world.

So how far can this Atletico team go? Well their squad has to be up there with the best in the world. The likes of Costa, his new strike partner Villa, alongside Turan, Raul Garcia and the promising Koke are part of a united squad who have only lost one game this season. People should not be ruling them out of the Champions League running either – they have already shown this season that they can beat the best teams in Europe, when they beat their rivals Real Madrid at the Bernebeu courtesy of a Diego Costa goal. One thing is for sure; Costa has without a doubt filled the void left by the money-grabbing Falcao, and is now set to lead the line for Spain next year in the World Cup.

But wait – I said earlier that Costa was born in Brazil, didn’t I? Well, Diego Costa has never really been in the picture for the Brazilian international side, which seems very peculiar as it seems that all Brazil need is a great striker. He has only made two appearances for Brazil, both off the bench in friendly matches earlier in March this year. Because Costa only played in friendly matches and not in competitive games, and since he was granted Spanish nationality early in the summer 2013, he had the option of whether to play for Brazil or Spain.

On 29 October 2013, Costa declared that he wished to play international football for Spain and a letter was sent to the Brazilian Football Confederation. This is great news for Spain, who have been in need of an in-form striker since David Villa’s injuries began to hit a couple of years ago. Scolari, the Brazil manager must be tearing his hair out, as he couldn’t manage to persuade a Brazilian born player to play in the World Cup in Brazil for the Brazilian national team.

Brazil have given their rivals an absolute gem in Costa, a man with the ability and attitude to win games single handedly, and alongside the likes of Iniesta, Xavi and Fabregas,  Costa should be getting plenty of service. The couple of things Spain always lacked perhaps were a quality striker, and some real strength and power. In Costa they most certainly get both.

So everyone, watch out for the Brazilian Spaniard Diego Costa, because I assume we will be hearing a lot about him and seeing a lot from him over the next few years, as he continues to light up La Liga, the Champions League, and of course next years World Cup in his home country Brazil.

Zack Sorkin

@zacksorks

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