Player Profile: Costinha PDF Print E-mail

CostinhaFull name: Francisco Jose Rodrigues da Costa
Position: Midfielder
Date of Birth: 1 December 1974
Birthplace: Lisbon, Portugal


We all know football is a game based on opinions, but sometimes people’s views still leave you perplexed. After Porto’s convincing Champions League quarter-final first leg win over French champions Lyon (on their way to winning the trophy in 2004), the reporter from UEFA covering the game was overheard mulling over his player ratings. “That guy playing number 6. Yeah. Costinha. He didn’t do much, did he?”

That’s just the way it goes for Costinha. He’s the unobtrusive caretaker in midfield, sweeping up in front of the back four so the flair players can get on with the crowd-pleasing. As his great friend and team-mate from his time at Monaco, Hibs manager John Collins, said in an interview back in 2004, “he’s never been a fans’ favourite, but he’s really appreciated by his coaches and the other players.”

Glamorous move

His unglamorous image as a player is at odds with his cosmopolitan résumé. Born in Lisbon, he left Nacional da Madeira in 1997 for the bright lights of Monaco at the tender age of 22. By the time he returned to his homeland with Porto in 2001, he had won a French league title and appeared in a Champions League semi-final (against Juventus).

He’d also garnered a string of caps for Portugal, having made his bow for the national team in October 1998, and struck the late winner against Romania in Euro 2000 that put the team through to the quarter-finals, after coming on as sub. All before making his debut in the Portuguese top flight.

His four-year spell back in Portugal was similarly remarkable, taking in two league titles, a cup, three Portuguese Super Cups, a UEFA Cup (although he was injured early on in the final) and that Champions League.

Memorable goal

One of the most crucial - and memorable - moments of the whole 2004 Champions League campaign was Costinha’s last-minute goal at Old Trafford which allowed Porto to reach the quarter-finals at Manchester United’s expense, and which prompted Jose Mourinho’s exuberant sprint down the touchline to join his players’ celebrations, of course. Costinha finished the season by appearing in all six of Portugal’s matches at Euro 2004.

Dressing room influence

Another aspect of Costinha juxtaposed to his playing style is his presence in the dressing room. Often overshadowed on the pitch, he’s forthright off it. After moving to Dynamo Moscow in 2005 with team-mate Maniche in a big-money move, he found himself out of favour after a row with coach Yuri Syomin. Alleging that he was owed money, he walked out and joined Atletico de Madrid in summer 2006. At his welcome press conference, he was crystal-clear about his high standards. “I’m not here just to help the club get a place in the UEFA Cup,” he said. “I think a club like this has to aspire to something more than that.”

And after the early-season league defeat by Valencia, no prizes for guessing who made a rallying speech to the troops in the changing room. As Atletico seek to end a barren spell of 11 years without a trophy, it looks as if they could finally have found the driving force they need.

by Andy Brassell (15/02/2007)

FC Porto10813
Dynamo Moscow100
Atletico Madrid240

* League appearances only

** Up to May 2009

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