Chelsea striker Diego Costa has told Football Focus he knows he is “no angel” on the pitch and he will not change his combative style of football.
Costa has twice been banned for three games this year – after stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can and for a clash with Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny.
“I’ve got this far thanks to the way I play the game,” said the 27-year-old Brazil-born Spain international.
“I’m not going to change that because of what people may think of it.”
‘Give no quarter, ask for none’
Costa moved to Stamford Bridge in July 2014 from Atletico Madrid, and helped Chelsea win the Premier League and League Cup last season.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has suggested Costa shouldtone down his aggressive side, while Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger accused the forward of always being “involved in provocation”.
Spain manager Vicente del Bosque, meanwhile, described Costa’s conduct during Chelsea’s 2-0 win over the Gunners in September as“unedifying”.
“I think that football has always had a passionate, aggressive side, with players giving their all,” said Costa. “People have to get used to this.
“Some people seem to think football is like theatre, and that everyone has to play the good guy.
“But I think that you transform when you cross the white line, you’re not the same person as off it. I give no quarter and I ask for none. Out there I’m going to fight for my team and do the best I can.
“Afterwards, when the match is over, I have my family and my friends. I have fun like a normal person. But on the pitch don’t try and put wings on me, as I am no angel.”
Tough tackling ‘part of the game’
Costa scored 20 times for Chelsea in 2014-15 but has managed just three goals so far this season.
He believes English referees give players less protection than their Spanish counterparts.
“I receive fouls that would result in yellow or red cards in Spain, but here it’s seen as part of the game,” he said.
“The countries have different footballing theories. But I’m not going to start complaining.
“It’s my job to adapt to the culture and the way the game is played here, not to complain. I think that my efforts are there for all to see.”
|2007-08||Celta Vigo||6 in 30 games|
|2008-09||Albacete||10 in 34|
|2009-10||Real Valladolid||8 in 32|
|2010-11||Atletico Madrid||6 in 13|
|2011-12||Rayo Vallecano||10 in 15|
|2012-13||Atletico Madrid||10 in 24|
|2013-14||Atletico Madrid||27 in 34|
|2014-15||Chelsea||20 in 26|
No arguments at Chelsea
Defending champions Chelsea are 12th in the Premier League table, 10 points behind leaders Manchester City.
The Blues face West Ham on Saturday (15:00 BST kick-off), and Costa says his team’s struggles are not down to a fragmented dressing room.
“Things aren’t going so well for the team right now, but it’s not because of the changing room,” said Costa.
“The atmosphere is great. During the year I’ve spent here, there hasn’t been one argument. There are normally disagreements in all changing rooms, but it hasn’t happened here.”
Costa said manager Jose Mourinho predicted Chelsea’s difficulties in defending their title, with other teams “upping their game”.
“Before the season started, the coach warned us,” he said. “We had a meeting with him and he warned us about our mentality.
“Our coach is very clever – he saw the situation we are in at the moment before it happened.”
What about Mourinho?
Mourinho has denied reports of a rift between him and certain Chelsea players, saying there are “zero” problems.
Costa said: “What has surprised me with Mourinho is the affinity he has with his players.
“Everyone talks about Mourinho’s image on the touchline, how serious and even arrogant he is.
“But he really has an affinity with his players in the changing room, on a day-to-day basis.”