Chelsea striker Diego Costa is adamant that the challenges he puts in are 'strong but noble' despite fierce criticism of his confrontational playing style, which won't be changing anytime soon.
Costa has just served a controversial three-match ban for a stamp on Emre Can against Liverpool in the Capital One Cup, with the retrospective action infuriating Blues boss Jose Mourinho and adding weight to his opinion that Chelsea are being picked out for special treatment by the Football Association.
The Brazilian-born forward believes criticism of his committed approach to the game is misguided, urging fans to go back and look at matches he's featured in and realise he's never purposely injured a fellow professional.
Costa has strong views to match strong game
In a wide-ranging interview with Sport magazine Costa was asked if he possessed the mentality of a 'street footballer', responding: “It depends on the point of view. Some of the kicks I suffer in England would be punished with a red card in Spain. My challenges on the ball are strong but noble at the same time.
"If you check my records, you will find out that I’ve never caused a bad injury to any player. The bottom line is that sometimes the little things I do on the pitch provoke exaggerated reactions. But if you rewind a bit and go through what they did to me, you may have another point of view. I consider myself a player who fights and gives everything on the pitch. Those who know me and appreciate those values understand what I say.”
No plans to make changes
One things is clear from Costa's interview, he's absolutely desperate to win things with Chelsea this season. That means there'll be no compromising on an imposing style that's took the Premier League by storm this season with 17 goals in 19 games.
"No one will stop my determination and my way of approaching the games," he said. "I am really grateful to the Chelsea fans. They have been very good to me.”
Costa will get the chance to release his frustration at spending a fortnight on the sidelines when Chelsea return to action next weekend, with the first leg of a Champions League showdown with Paris Saint-Germain looming large.
Winning is the only motivation
The 26-year-old came agonisingly close to winning the competition last year with Atletico Madrid, losing the final against bitter rivals Real Madrid despite leading heading into stoppage time.
That heartbreak has only strengthened Costa's resolve to go one better this year, a feat he believes this Chelsea team are definitely capable of.
“I am going to be honest: I want to be a champion with Chelsea, either a Premier League champion or a Champions League winner," Costa insisted.
"I presume that winning the Champions League must be an amazing experience. I reached the final of this beautiful tournament once, but I couldn’t win it. We know that our manager is a multiple Champions League winner with loads of experience, and that will help. I also hope we are a bit lucky. There are great teams yet to be faced.”
Costa holds the key to Chelsea achieving their goals this season, which means there'll be no toning down attempts to bully centre-backs in search of success anytime soon.