Every football fan has a different view of Diego Costa. Often hated by many for his antics, and adored by those who appreciate his appetite for competition.
The forward has set the Premier League on fire since his arrival from then-Spanish champions Atlético Madrid in 2014, bagging 50 goals for the club in 97 games – a record that’s better than that of his supposed predecessor, Didier Drogba. He’s even got a Premier League winners medal to boast about when he was part of José Mourinho’s rampant side during the 2014-15 campaign.
But the football world has seen a different side of Diego Costa under new manager Antonio Conte, scoring 15 goals in 23 Premier League games as Chelsea look to reclaim the title they lost in such horrible fashion last season. Conte’s switch to an unconventional 3-4-3 formation has benefitted many in the side, and Costa is certainly one of them.
But this section does not celebrate Costa’s goal-scoring antics, it’s his actions away from goal that are appreciated here. Take one of his goals from earlier this season, against Crystal Palace to seal a tough 1-0 win, as evidence as to why so many fans like in him what others don’t.
The goal was a simple one. A casual ball lofted over from the right side from defender César Azpilicueta to allow Costa to show off his efficiency. On a foggy afternoon where visibility was fairly low, the six-foot two-inch Costa overcame and hassled six-foot five-inch Scott Dann before slotting in past Wayne Hennessey in the Crystal Palace goal.
But it was the celebration that caught the eye, one that creates a certain respect for the often misunderstood forward.
After scoring, he jetted off to thank Azpilicueta for his ball before heading off to the dugout to receive words of praise from his manager Antonio Conte and hugged him. With a shirt worn out and covered in mud after being on the receiving end of several Palace challenges, and a deep scar on the left side of his cheek, Costa put on a smile of accomplishment while in jubilation with his manager.
And he deserves to have a moment of joy, for he’s been doing this for quite a long time.
Costa performs the “rogue footballer” role really well, probably the best in England at the moment. This is where a footballer has the ability to constantly concede fouls without getting booked equally as often, or get fouled and draw enough attention from the referee to get the suspect booked. Only a few players in England do it as well as he does. Ander Herrera of Manchester United, or Gareth Barry of Everton are ones who can be compared to the Spanish-Brazilian forward.
He is a fighter, a man who’d be willing to die for his side, a winner and a person who knows no limits when it comes to competition. He’s been doing this for years, it’s been instilled in him by his raising in tiny Lagarto in Brazil, honed by the likes of Braga, Celta de Vigo and Rayo Vallecano. A drive to succeed that reached its limit with Diego Simeone, a man who’s got a different definition for hard-hitting football altogether.
Voted as the world’s most-hated footballer in December of 2015 by French daily publication L’Équipe, it has taken just a year for many to appreciate why Costa does what he does, as a good part of those have come to honour the talent that the man has always had.
Diego Costa is top-quality, the world knows it, and he deserves everything that he has.