Diego Costa insists his move to Wolves has relighted the fire inside him as the two-time Premier League winner returns to the competition, although he admits it’s going to be a big challenge – but one he’s looking to embrace.
Although he has been without a club since leaving Atletico Mineiro in January, the Spanish international striker, who also earned two caps for his home country Brazil, believes it’s not going to take him too long to get back up to speed with the English top flight as he aims to score the goals which Wolves are in demand for.
On signing for Wolves
“It’s a first-class club with very good players who know how to play football and having the chance to play in the Premier League again was the main thing.
“Obviously, the club influenced my decision, especially knowing I will be able to adapt a lot more easily here not only from a technical point of view, the quality of the players but also from the fact that a lot of the players are Portuguese and that will make my transition that much smoother.
“It wasn't in the best terms possible on accounts of a player’s injury which, unfortunately, I can only wish him nothing but the best for him.
“But when he [Bruno Lage] told me about returning to the Premier League since this a championship I have related to quite a bit, always liked it and followed. No matter how much I enjoyed playing in Madrid, I felt discouraged, but this motivated me. It lit that fire within me.”
On returning to the UK
“I always thought that the Premier League was the best out there, the best in the world. I had the pleasure to play in it, return again and in my opinion, from experience, the league has the atmosphere, the way the game is played, the stadiums full of supporters, the pitch in perfect condition, the respect that players have for each other.
“I did think if I would be able to do it, if I was physically and mentally ready for this new challenge – a difficult one, that I know for sure – but mentally, I’m fine. On a physical and psychological level, I will need two to three weeks to get back in shape but that’s normal since I haven’t done much for a while but I know that I can do it.
“If I ever doubted my potential because of what I’ve done – and thank God I’ve had a fulfilling career – and I didn’t have anything left to give, I wouldn't have accepted this challenge because I have a team to care for and if I said yes to this, it’s because I think that I can bring something to the table.”
On speaking with Lage
“We did speak. We didn’t really go into the personal side of things or speak about family. We talked about football. I explained how I felt because I am incredibly motivated and ready to play again. I know that I can help but I also explained my current situation which means that I need my own time.
“I asked him not to rush me into things in the sense of planning things that don’t always go to plan because that will mean I won’t be able to help the way I want to. He was very understanding. He is a great manager and someone who has been doing a great job.
“He spoke with some of my former colleagues, but he was very serene, which is very important for a player. We might say that ‘Diego Costa is this way’ but a manager taking the time to get to know you as a player, worry about you and trust you – because there might be some doubt since I was not playing for a long time and I understand there, I don’t judge that line of thought because your data people just see your stats. A lot of figures and a lot of bad players just play for the numbers and that shouldn’t be a thing.”
On bringing experience to a young squad
“Of course, I’m happy to help. I just don’t want to be a pain. I’ll speak with someone if I notice they may need some guidance.
“I’d rather speak with someone when they’re not doing that well because I don’t see a point of offering advice if someone is doing well. If they’re doing well, leave them be. If someone ever reaches out to you for advice, you offer it, but I don’t like to meddle.”
On announcement video
“I was scared to death. Holding that chain I kept thinking, ‘What if this wolf thinks about jumping on top of me?’ and then the three of them did.
“Because the lady training them kept calling them, asked them to move around a little and the dog, the wolves didn’t do a single thing. And I thought, ‘If they’re not doing anything with the trainer, if they come’...when they came and smelled my foot, I knew I was done for.
“I was a little scared then. Those were wolves, not dogs. It was a cool experience but not a very comfortable one. I have five dogs, but they’re not wolves!”
On what fans can expect from him
“What they can expect from me is dedication, willingness, discipline and goals which is what I will try to bring to the team to thank for all the support and all the trust.
“I am very grateful to those who trust in me because despite what happened in the past, to wish a speedy recovery to the player who got injured, I hope to repay that confidence after not playing for a while because I will be playing in a competitive league and to pass on that trust to show that I can give back.
“If it’s entirely up to me, as a supporter, you can bet that I will give it my all, give it my 100 per cent on the pitch as if it were a new beginning. Since this is a challenge, a lot of dedication and love on the pitch as I will give the best of me.”
On aims for season
“Score goals. Score goals, do the best I can, give it my all. Find my place as a person, a player and understand how I actually feel because this is a big challenge.
“It’s not an easy challenge because you’re not going to play in an easy league and you can’t play it the way you want to. This is a very demanding championship, physically demanding, and it is something to test myself with and I’m ready to give it a go.”