The year 2014 has already been a memorable one for Diego Costa but he adds to the story this week as he begins life at Chelsea.
The 25-year-old striker’s goals helped propel Atletico Madrid to a first La Liga title in 18 years as well as the Champions League final. He then represented Spain at the World Cup and now, having trained with Jose Mourinho and new team-mates in Austria, he sat down with the official Chelsea website at the team hotel to discuss his move, look ahead to the challenges English football will bring and outline his determination to help the club achieve success on the pitch.
Hi Diego, welcome to the club. How does it feel to be a Chelsea player?
Firstly, thank you very much for welcoming me. Finally, after a long time waiting it’s going to be a great honour for me to put on the Chelsea shirt, the shirt of such a big club. I’m looking forward to doing that as soon as possible, I can’t wait to get started.
Your first involvement with the squad was setting off on this trip, how have you found the first few days?
Straight away I’ve been able to see that the group is very united, there is a really happy atmosphere among the players. Because of the language barrier I don’t understand everything but I’m here doing what I enjoy, which is training, preparing for the season and trying to get myself in the best physical condition before our first game against Burnley.
You were at the World Cup with Fernando Torres and Cesar Azpilicueta, did they give you any advice on what to expect here?
Of course, I spoke to them during the World Cup at various times. When I knew I was making the step to come here I took advice and asked what to expect. They told me it was an outstanding club with great staff and a great structure to it. They told me it would be a place where I could enjoy my football and improve my own game.
Of the players on the trip, as well as Fernando and Cesar you also know Cesc Fabregas and your former Atletico team-mate Filipe Luis. Has having them here enabled you to settle quickly?
Definitely, it’s important for me to have them here but we still have the three Brazilian players – Oscar, Willian and Ramires – to come back and I’ve played with them and asked them about the club as well. Whenever I speak to them about Chelsea they only have good things to say so when they arrive for pre-season there will be a big group of players I get along with and know already, so I won’t have any problems.
What made you want to join Chelsea?
It was an easy decision for me to make. We have some of the best players in the world, the best manager in the world and it’s a club with great history. I want to improve, not only as a player but as an individual, and I believe this is the perfect place for me to do that. That’s the reason I chose Chelsea and why I want to defend this shirt.
Have you spoken to the manager about what he expects from you?
Yes, of course he’s spoken to me, but one of the main things he said was that he doesn’t want me to change. It was Jose’s and the club’s decision to buy me and the reason they signed me was because of the way I played at Atletico. I don’t feel I have to change much, I just have to improve fine details to become a better player, hopefully I will have a similar season to the last one.
Are you a fan of the Premier League and are you looking forward to testing yourself in English football?
I’ve always looked at the Premier League as one of the best leagues in the world, if not the best. I feel my attributes will enable me to fit in well, I can’t wait for the season to start so I can show people what I can do and test myself against some of the best defenders in Europe.
The World Cup was a big disappointment for Spain, has that made you even more determined to do well for Chelsea?
To say the World Cup didn’t go well for Spain is an understatement but that’s something we need to put to the back of our minds and forget about, the players need to move forward. I went into the tournament after missing a month with a hamstring injury but now I’ve been able to have a good holiday and I feel much better. I’m looking forward to this next chapter in my career, I want to keep pushing myself and improving as a player.
As a striker, you must be looking forward to having so many talented attacking midfielders playing behind you…
Firstly, it’s important for me to respect the situation I’m in. I’ve come here to have a great fight professionally with Fernando Torres in order to get into the team. Working with players such as those here will definitely aid my game and I know I’ll get chances. I look forward to playing with them but the most important thing is getting into the team and that’s not a foregone conclusion.
Having gone so close with Atletico in last season’s Champions League, are you confident this Chelsea squad can win the tournament this season?
We have an outstanding squad and if we can all stick together, pull in the same direction and remain focused I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be going to the final stages and fighting for every trophy available.