‘I’m not violent, just provocative’

Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa has reflected on his continuing reputation in La Liga and on how he has ‘turned the tables’ on defenders.

The striker has caught the eye this season for his form for Atleti and his notable duels with opposition defenders.

“I’m not a violent player, nor unfair, provocative yes,” reflected Costa to Brazilian media this week, as he prepares for potential involvement with the national team for the first time.

“People believe that, for my temperament, it may cause my dismissal, but I’ve learned to turn the table and now my opponents draw the cards, not me.

“Defenders hate me because they are not given anything. They complain, but I get beaten up all the time.

“After the game against Pepe and Ramos, I became the centre of attention, but in a negative aspect and I know now, the referees look more to me than to the rest.”

The striker has been accused of racism by Sevilla's Geoffrey Kondogbia.

“These allegations have no foundation. In the heat of the game things can be misinterpreted. I have black relatives and would never do this.”

Costa then reflected on his upbringing and how he has had to learn the hard way to behave himself.

“I decided I would be a footballer when my father named me after Diego Maradona. My school was life and the field, and the ball.

“I missed learning to take care of my image, to respect my Coach and my teammates.

“If I had had such training then I would not have committed so many errors. With that experience, I would not have done so many stupid things.

“I made a lot of mistakes, but I realised that it was not the fault of the referees or the opponents, but of me. I was moody before, but now I am more relaxed.

“I’ve learned the hard way, but I’ve noticed that I had to change, or I would have forever been marked as a player with a bad head.”

Tags Brazil Diego Costa