Manuel Rui COSTA

(Fiorentina)

Manuel Rui Costa is 25 and this season could be a crucial one for him. He could become the new symbol of Fiorentina and Portugal. In the first place he obtained a more pivotal role in the new Malesani's Fiorentina, he is now a true leader and playmaker. Fiorentina won't be 'Batistuta's team" anymore but 'Batistuta's and Rui Costa's team". How did you decide to give up your traditional role?
'I've never been a creative inside forward like Baggio, Del Piero, Zola or Mancini, and my position has always been another one. They like to play very close to the goal-mouth while I prefer to start from afar. Moreover I have already played several times as a playmaker especially with Portugal when Paulo Sousa is not available. Even Ranieri sometimes lined me up in that position, and so far results have been encouraging. Altogether this is my 8th season in Serie A and I feel mature and ready to step up. My teammates and coach proved to trust me and I'll do my best to be up to this new task'.
Do you have a model for this new role?
'I take exemple from Guardiola who last summer was lured by many Italian Clubs, including Fiorentina. Then I admire Paulo Sousa among my national teammates and I like Albertini and Deschamps who are the best ones of the Italian Championship. However I will never get their level because I'll never be as defensively talented'.
Last summer Fiorentina risked to lose Batistuta, how did you live that situation?
'I was as anxious as my teammates and our fans. We all knew that losing Gabriel would be a tough blow both for the team and for the Club. I am a close friend of Batistuta, we shared joys and disappointments over the last 3 seasons, and I did my best to keep him with us. I felt very happy when I was told that everything was finally settled'.
After 4 seasons in Italy do you still rate this one as the best Football Championship in the World?
'Sure. This is the reason because I came in Italy and I signed a very long-dated contract. In Italy there are so many great teams: Milan, Juventus, Inter, Parma'.
And what about Fiorentina?
'In theory we are a step behind them, like Roma and Sampdoria, but we are not resigned. Nobody should forget that just 2 seasons ago we won the Italian Cup, the Italian Supercup and we finished third in the Italian Championship'.
What does Fiorentina still miss to be as competitive as Juventus and Milan?
'It's a matter of mental attitude. We have the right players, a good Management and wonderful fans. We just need to become more persevering and consistent'.
What about Ranieri? You hadn't a perfect relationship with him, but when he was contested you defended him.
'I had some problems with Ranieri just because at some point he kept on replacing me, but I've always considered him as a very honest and competent Coach. Those who accused him for Fiorentina's last seasons failure were wrong. We players were the main responsible. He just deserved more luck'.
What can you say about Malesani? Someone considered him as a true bet.
'Before coming to Fiorentina he just coached in Serie B and C1, but I think that if you know football and your ideas are clear, you can successfully coach everywhere. He has very clear ideas and we immediately shared them with him. Malesani is as ambitious as me. He wants to win his challenge. Those who thought he would be in trouble dealing with great champions were very wrong'.
Malesani looks to be more oriented to launch young players than Ranieri.
'I agree with him. Amoroso is a young player who's going to be very successful. Flachi, Mirri and Dionigi are other great prospects'.
Malesani said: 'Rui Costa is a pivotal player for Fiorentina. He's got all the qualities which make a real champion. He's got a winning attitude'. Do you have anything to add?
'I just can say thank to Malesani and promise that I'll do my best to get even better, for Fiorentina and for myself'.
Manuel Rui Costa was born in Lisbona the 29th of March 1992. He began to play with Benfica at the age of 9 and was discovered by the best Portuguese player ever, Eusebio. At the age of 18 Manuel was lent to Fefe (Serie C) before coming back home to become a starter with Sven Goran Eriksson. After winning an Under 20 World Cup (along with Figo, Joao Pinto, Abel Xavier and Fernando Couto) Rui Costa achieved the Portuguese Championship and Cup in 1993-94. He moved to Firenze in 1994 where, so far, he won an Italian Cup and an Italian Supercup.

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