"I’ve never injured another colleague, another player on purpose," insists Diego Costa
When you have a manager in the form of the eccentric Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, you would imagine that hardly any of his players will be making headlines as much as the Portuguese himself would.
However, that hasn’t been the case for their Brazilian-born Spanish striker Diego Costa – who is currently serving his three-match ban for stamping two different players during Chelsea’s match against Liverpool on earlier this week.
Speaking to the Guardian, the former Atletico Madrid gave out his first interview to an English press, talking on topics ranging from his latest ban to his childhood.
Here are some of the excerpts from the interview which you can read here.
On his ban
“As far as what happened on Tuesday, the main thing is when I get home I can go home and I can go to sleep knowing that I’ve not done anything wrong, because I never meant to do that and it was not on purpose,” he explained. “And you can clearly see that on the video.”
“But it is a suspension. I have to accept that, I have to take it. Obviously I feel sad because I’m not going to be able to help the team, to play. But I have to accept it and respect it,” he continued.
“I’m not saying I’m an angel. I’m no angel. You can see that. But every time I play I will play the same way because that’s the way I am. That’s what I need to do in order to support my family. That’s my bread and butter, also that’s what I need to do for this club and for the fans of this club, for the supporters and for all the people involved in this club.”
Never injured anyone on purpose
“I want to be competitive, I want to run all over - I want to win,” he added. “I can accept defeat but I love to win and be competitive. It is my job and I love it. I train all week just to play for 90 minutes. I love playing games and so during those 90 minutes, it’s always 100 percent.”
“You have to see how many times have I injured someone. Never. I’ve never injured another colleague, another player on purpose. Yes, I’ve had loads of incidents maybe even more (when I played) in Spain. But that’s the way I play. I’m not going to change the way I play because I got banned for a few games now.”
“Back in the old days there used to be way more contact and a lot of things that were permitted. These days everyone is looking at it and I don’t think that is good for the game,” he continued. “I have a go at defenders and they have a go at me. We argue. Whatever happens on the pitch stays on the pitch. After the game I shake hands with the defender. Job done, I go home, he goes home. We’re all mates. It’s all good.”
“That’s how I see football. That’s how I play football. I’m not going to change it – football is a contact sport.”
On being the joker of the team
“I’ve always been that way, that’s the way I am. I don’t do things for people to think that I am funny, that’s really the way I am. It comes naturally,” he explained. “I’ve always liked to joke with every club I’ve been in with all my team-mates because it’s where we work and we spend a lot of time together, more time than even with your family.
“So I do like to joke around – but I’m not the only one. There’s a few jokers in the dressing room. Didier Drogba is a big one and (Eden) Hazard as well.”
“We have a great bond,” he added. “For example, there are great players like Didier Drogba. Well, I don’t have to say what he was or what he is. For example, I’m playing now in his place but he would never be moody or anything like that. Same with Ramires. We all go in the same direction. And that’s the only way in order to succeed. We all want the best for the club.”
On his childhood days
“In Brazil, if you have a son, the first thing you give him is a football,” Costa recalled. “That’s the first gift - so my dad was no different. I started playing football on the streets, I grew up playing football on the streets with my friends and that’s why I was brought up the way I was. That’s the school I had – the street football.”
“In order to be able to play football I had to behave because every time my mum asked for something I had to do it – then she would agree that I would be able to go and play football which is what I liked,” he added. “So I had to do that and get good grades in school, behave and do everything my mum wanted in order to be able to be free and go and play football.”
Never wanted to be a professional footballer
“I had my dreams. I never wanted to be a professional footballer,” he said. “Yes, I loved the game; I loved playing. But you have to understand that where I come from is such a small, tiny town that there were not many opportunities. ”
“There are great players there but people do not see them because they do not have the opportunities,” he added. “So I left my home-town when I was 15 and I went to Sao Paulo and went to work for my uncle (Jarminho) at his store. Basically, I did not want to play football anymore. I wanted to earn my own money and support myself and not depend on my parents anymore.”
On his life at Chelsea
“Obviously when I started I always tried to focus on having short-term goals because sometimes when you have a massive objective or a goal like when you play in the fourth league (in Brazil) and you want to play in the Champions League you might get confused in your head, you might go and take the wrong path,” the striker said.
“So I have always tried to concentrate during my career on every year becoming a little bit better than the year before and growing and growing slowly and focusing on short-term goals. Now I am where I am. And I am very grateful because it’s the best thing,” he added.
“People might say about the money being involved, but the pleasure you get from playing at this level, playing in the Champions League is the best thing ever. Winning the Spanish league, achieving glory with a club and with your team-mates and seeing all the fans and how passionate they are about it and everything then you just want to play at this level and remain at this level as long as you can and among the best and to push yourself really, really hard,” he concluded.