It's somewhat funny that it's taken until a three-match ban to get Diego Costa to open up to the English media; or, alternatively, for the English media to really take interest in him. Scoring goals by the bucketloads? Ah, who cares. One major controversial incident? Let's talk, Diego!
Cynicism aside and regardless of whether this particular campaign (we do love campaigns, no?) has been orchestrated by the striker's PR team or by the pretty little hate machine that is the football media at large, we're getting treated to a second in-depth interview in the space of as many weeks with the Premier League's leading scorer, this time by Sport magazine, the slightly less shouty side of talkSport radio.
This interview touches on a several of the same themes that the Telegraph's interview did a couple weeks ago. Yes, he plays on the limit. No, he's not out to hurt anyone. Yes, he's a friendly and jovial character in person. Yes, he relishes the challenge of testing himself against the best week-in and week-out, even as he gets kicked more often than he ever did in Spain. He treats each game as a battle, a battle that must be won. And winning is done through goals, and the ultimate reward for winning is a trophy.
All this we knew already, and for all this we already love him. We also knew that he was from a small town in an impoverished region in Brazil. "Behind the sunset," as Mourinho put it. His rise from street footballer to Premier League star is a classic, movie-worthy story. He's got a reputation, but he's also the dressing room jokester, despite not being able to speak English. Meanwhile, he credits Oscar and Cesc Fàbregas for helping him settle quickly ... and thinks that Andreas Christensen should be more excited.
That last bit's not in the interview. But what is, and what stood out to me the most was when he talked about leaving his family behind in Brazil, moving to Portugal as a teenager and how he's turned that feeling loneliness into determination and then into an obsession.
"My biggest challenge was leaving home in Lagarto [in Brazil]. I left my parents in tears as I crossed the doorstep on my own."
"As you can imagine, [adjusting to Europe] was hard. I was very bonded to the small village I am from. In my village, we all are very close to our families and it's unusual to end up living in a different way to your relatives. However, I love them more than anything else. I always knew that I wanted to change my family's life."
"... my determination [to change their lives] suppressed any feeling of loneliness. Determination gave me the strength I needed. If it weren't for my parents, I wouldn't be where I am right now. If you want to achieve something, you must have a goal in life. In my case, being a football player was a dream; my real obsession was to give my family a better life, no matter what."
-Diego Costa; source: Sport