At the finals of any major tournament, particularly one as demanding as the FIFA World Cup™, players who can perform effectively in a number of positions are worth their weight in gold. Portugal’s Ricardo Costa is one such example: most at home in the centre of defence he is also able to turn out anywhere across the backline or even in defensive midfield.
Recently signed by La Liga outfit Valencia from Wolfsburg, having spent the second half of 2009/10 on loan in Ligue 1 with Lille, this gritty competitor began his career in the youth system of Portuguese club Boavista only to make his name at neighbours and rivals FC Porto. At Os Dragões Costa picked up four league titles as well as being part of the Porto squad which lifted the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League under Jose Mourinho.
More silverware followed after joining Wolfsburg in 2007, where he helped the club win their first ever Bundesliga title in 2008/09. A regular starting berth eluded him at the Wolves, however, culminating in the aforementioned loan switch to Lille – a move which breathed fresh life into his South Africa 2010 hopes.
On the international scene, Costa first taste of the big stage came in 2004 when representing Portugal at that year’s UEFA European U-21 Championship and the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Athens. The versatile defender was also called up by then senior coach Luiz Felipe Scolari for Germany 2006, where he appeared in the defeat against the host nation in the play-off for third place.