Chelsea’s Diego Costa speaks about ban, physicality and being targeted

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Diego Costa will return to action for Chelsea on February 17 against Paris Saint-Germain in the UEFA Champions League, as the Spanish international striker has been banned for the past three games following a violent conduct charge for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can.

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Costa, 26, has spoken out about that incident and much more in a wide-ranging interview with the Guardian discussing how he has set up an academy for kids in his hometown of Lagarto in Brazil.

Here’s a few snippets from Chelsea’s leading striker as he prepares to return to action…

On how he’s coping with the ban for stamping on Can

“It is frustrating not being able to play because I cannot help my team-mates out on the pitch. If the game is hard out there, really tight as they have been, I sit there kicking every ball. Being very active. I get very caught up in it.”

On the physicality

“I’ve been a target for defenders for a long time, and I am used to getting kicked by them, to get knocked by them. I know all about that already. I also fight and tackle, even if some defenders complain at the slightest contact. To me, you draw a line under all that as soon as the game is over. We shake hands and it is all [left] on the field. I think the referees should think about how many times I am hit or kicked before I get angry about it. But referees here in England are good enough and professional.”

On football being “his life”

“Football is my life and I cannot imagine myself doing anything other than playing this game. I’ve been through a lot to get here and I know now the difficult thing is to maintain myself at this level. To stay here and to maintain yourself among the best you have to become a better player and a better person as well. So I have to work and improve as if there was no tomorrow.”