Over the last couple decades, the Premier League has grown to be the biggest football league in the world not only in terms of revenue and financial muscle, but also in terms of exposure and visibility. One of the biggest beneficiaries as well as early pioneers of this growth were Chelsea, who, like most other big clubs in England and Europe, have a much bigger following around the world than just in the immediate local area.
But fans aren’t the only ones able to easily follow the team. Future players can as well, such as Diego Costa, who apparently used to watch and idolize Didier Drogba before getting to play with him for a season (and win a title).
"I have always seen [Didier] Drogba as the example to follow in terms of a centre-forward. He was strong and scored loads of goals and he was a quality player. Just watching him train helped me."
"Just seeing him, I was amazed. This is because — and I’m not making this up at all — I specifically used to watch Chelsea [before I joined], who are obviously a big club, just to see Drogba. He was famous and everyone would talk about him. I even liked watching him when he played for the Ivory Coast."
"When I arrived here, he was never cold with me, quite the opposite. I wasn’t exactly scared of him, but he was such a legend who had helped the club grow and been a part of all that."
"He made history here, so could have been dismissive of me but, no, he was always fantastic with me. I will always have fond memories of him and whenever I see him, I thank him. It’s not always easy for someone with so much history to be in that position."
"I was playing well, scoring goals, and he would support and motivate me, whereas others might not have done the same. I take my hat off to him."
Like Drogba, Diego Costa had no experience in youth football. He was instead forged on the streets of his hometown of Lagarto, learning to play against kids much older and stronger than him. Thus was born his fiery desire to win at all cost.
“Perhaps you could say [my combative nature] from when I used to play in the streets [back in Brazil], playing alongside my brother and cousins. I always wanted to win. Everyone has a bit of that in them, but I have even more of a will to win."
"Sometimes I might go overboard, whereas there are others who, yes, they want to win, but if they don’t it’s no big deal for them. I’m different. I want to win and always have done since I was small. I don’t know if it’s in my blood or just my personality."
Diego has always been a controversial figure, and has been a media target ever since arriving in England. From #CostaCrimes to harsh yellows to “BLAZING ROWS”, a sensationalist headline is never too far. But save for a few exceptions that prove the rule — mirroring, in a way, Drogba once again — Diego has been loved since day one at Stamford Bridge.
"Not just the fans at the ground but the other Chelsea supporters and my teammates have shown that they care about me and I feel the same about them, too. If I go on to the pitch, do things well and the fans love me and my team-mates, too, we take on that energy which can change a game."
"I don’t know what it is exactly, but when the fans get behind you it gives you a boost and can change a game completely. When a game is not going your way, you need them because it gives you an extra push."
-Diego Costa; Source: Chelsea FC via London Evening Standard
Diego was kept off the scoresheet for two consecutive league games for the first time this season (thanks in part to a missed penalty kick) and now trails Romelu Lukaku in the race for the Premier League golden boot. He scored his first ever goal for Chelsea against Burnley however, so maybe the next one will be against the Clarets this weekend as well.