By Chris Wright
Currently serving a three-match ban for stamping on a Slovak, Diego Costa has poured out his heart in an interview with Sport magazine – claiming he’s not the malicious shin-shredder he’s constantly made out to be and, while his tackles may intermittently verge on being a bit naughty, he’s never anything less than noble.
Or something like that anyway.
Asked about his suspect disciplinary record over the years and his transition from La Liga to the Premier League, Costa replied:
“I am getting used to getting kicked more than before.
“Premier League defenders are really strong and physical. In England, the referees don’t call many fouls, as opposed to Spanish football.
“Consequently, you must be really strong all through the 90 minutes.”
“Some of the kicks I suffer in England would be punished with a red card in Spain.
“My challenges on the ball are strong but noble at the same time. If you check my records, you will find out that I’ve never caused a bad injury to any player.
“The bottom line is that sometimes the little things I do on the pitch provoke exaggerated reactions.
“But if you rewind a bit and go through what they did to me, you may have another point of view. I consider myself a player who fights and gives everything on the pitch.
“Those who know me and appreciate those values understand what I say.”
Frankly, “noble” is stretching it a bit but we secretly love having arch-antagonists like Costa (and Luis Suarez before him) about the place. It makes the Premier League a far more interesting place.
Costa is a mongrel on the pitch, a pantomime villain of a player who exists on the line between fair and foul. It’s damn effective, he must be an absolute nightmare to play against and it gives us fans somebody to get all hoity-toity and angsty about.
Long may he reign/stamp/gouge/dive/bicker/irritate!
(The full Sport interview with Costa is available here)