Rui Costa with Benfica in 2007
|Full name||Rui Manuel César Costa|
|Date of birth||29 March 1972|
|Place of birth||Amadora, Portugal|
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Playing position||Attacking midfielder|
|1990–1991||→ Fafe (loan)||38||(6)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Rui Manuel César Costa, OIH (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈʁuj ˈkɔʃtɐ]; born 29 March 1972) is a Portuguese retired footballer and former director of football of S.L. Benfica. He is a current councilor for Benfica's SAD.
Regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of his generation, Costa played in a creative role as an attacking midfielder but was also capable of playing as a deep-lying playmaker. Throughout his career, he was renowned for his fine technique, great vision and excellent passing, which made him a capable assist provider; he was also an accurate striker of the ball with both feet. In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100, as one of the 125 greatest living football players.
Nicknamed "the Maestro", Costa spent the majority of his career with Benfica in Portugal and Fiorentina and A.C. Milan in Italy. In a top-flight career spanning 17 years, he won several trophies including one Primeira Liga title, one Portuguese Cup, one Serie A title, three Italian Cups, one UEFA Champions League title and one UEFA Super Cup. A Portuguese international, Costa amassed 94 caps and scored 26 goals for a selecção and represented the country in three UEFA European Championships and one FIFA World Cup.
At the age of five, Costa joined the infant indoor football team of Damaia Ginásio Clube. Costa tried his luck at Benfica. Within ten minutes of training, Portugal legend Eusébio, who was supervising the youngsters, was impressed with Costa's skills. Up until 1990, Costa played for Benfica's youth squads. In his first full season he was loaned to A.D. Fafe on a season long deal.
In 1991, after the Under-21 World Cup, which Portugal won after a penalty kick scored by Costa, he returned to Benfica. In his first full season with Benfica, he was featured regularly in Benfica's team. In his next two seasons, his role in the team would prove to be pivotal as Benfica captured two trophies. He formed a formidable midfield partnership with João Vieira Pinto. During his last two seasons with Benfica in his first spell with the club, he won the Cup of Portugal in 1993 and the Portuguese First Division title in 1993–94. This would be Benfica's last league title for 11 years.
At the end of his third season in Benfica's senior squad, Fiorentina offered 1200 million escudos (about €6 million) for the young midfielder, an impressive salary at the time. Since Benfica was struggling with financial problems, Rui Costa had to leave.
Despite the heavy competition with the best midfielders in that time such as Zinedine Zidane, Costa was named the best number 10 player in the Serie A a few times. His departure from Fiorentina was discussed every season, since many clubs constantly showed interest in signing him. However, he only left when Fiorentina went bankrupt after the 2001–02 season. With the Florentine club, Rui Costa won the Coppa Italia twice, also winning a Supercoppa Italiana.
Fatih Terim was the coach of Fiorentina in the 2000–01 season. When he was leaving Fiorentina for Milan, he took Costa with him, paying a reported £30 million for the player. In doing so, Costa became Milan's most expensive transfer of all-time. Costa played five seasons in Milan, where he won one Serie A title, one Italian Cup, one Italian Super Cup, one UEFA Champions League, and one European Super Cup. He played less frequently following the arrival of Brazilian youngster Kaká in 2003.
Return to Benfica
On 25 May 2006, Costa's return to Benfica to play in the upcoming season was announced in a press conference. He had been released from Milan after both the player and the club reached an agreement to end his contract. Costa also gave up his €4.6 million per year contract to play in the club that, year after year, had dreamt of his return. His return saw former Benfica and Portugal international Eusébio praise Costa's return. Costa's first game back saw him start in a 2006–07 UEFA Champions League qualifier against FK Austria Wien in August 2006. The return leg saw Costa score in his return to the Estádio da Luz on twenty one minutes. Benfica would go on to win 3–0 and clinch a place in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League.
Following the start of the season, Costa would suffer a serious injury which would keep him out of action for three months. Costa returned in January 2007, in a Taça de Portugal fourth round tie against Oliveira do Bairro S.C.. Following his return, he was used as a regular in Benfica's starting eleven under Fernando Santos. His first season would see Benfica finish behind FC Porto and Sporting CP in the Primeira Liga. In other competitions that Benfica participated in, they would be eliminated in the round of 16 in the Taça de Portugal and bow out of the UEFA Cup against RCD Espanyol.
Prior to start of the 2007–08 Primeira Liga, Costa would announce that the 2007–08 season would be his last as a professional. Despite the sacking of Fernando Santos at the beginning of the league campaign, Costa would remain a first team regular under José Antonio Camacho. The first game of the season saw Costa be decisive in Benfica reaching the Champions League group stage. He scored two goals in a qualifier against F.C. Copenhagen in the first leg. He would also play an important part in the second leg where Benfica defeated the Danish side 1–0 away from home to seal Benfica's third consecutive presence in the group stage.
Costa would score his first league goal since his return to Benfica against C.D. Nacional in September 2007. His displays in the league would earn him the SJPF Player of the Month award for September 2007. Following qualification to the group stage, Benfica was drawn against Costa's former club AC Milan. The inaugural game of the group stage in September 2007 saw Benfica take on the Rossoneri at the San Siro where the Milan outfit defeated Benfica 2–1. The return fixture on match day five, would see Milan visit the Estádio da Luz where both teams left the game with a point following a 1–1 draw. Benfica would exit the competition in third place behind Milan and Celtic F.C. were they directly entered into knockout stages of the UEFA Cup.
In the new year, Benfica dropped various points along their campaign to Académica, Braga, Porto, Sporting and União de Leiria which effectively dropped them out of the title race. Their failure to compete for the title resulted in Benfica setting their priorities to capture third place which secured a UEFA Champions League qualification. Benfica would fail to capture third place which would go to newly promoted Vitória de Guimarães. Benfica would also drop out of the Round of 16 of the UEFA Cup to Spanish side Getafe CF. Under Costa's captaincy, Benfica would also fall short in the 2007–08 Taça de Portugal were they lost to Sporting in the semi-finals despite Costa scoring in a game which ended 5–3. Costa played his last game on 11 May 2008 at the Estádio da Luz against Vitória de Setúbal. He was substituted in the 86th minute to a standing ovation from the spectators.
In the summer of 1991, Costa's displays at Fafe had impressed Portugal Under-21 coach Carlos Queiroz so much that he was called up to the team to represent Portugal in the World Youth Cup. The Portuguese under-20 national team won a World Youth Championship in 1991. His clinching penalty kick against Brazil in the final helped win the title on home soil and announced Costa as one of the brightest members of what would become known as the “Golden Generation.”
Costa was especially instrumental in helping Portugal reach the 2004 final on home soil, scoring a screamer of a goal at the Estádio da Luz against England in the quarter-final match, and the sight of a distraught Rui Costa at the end of a 1–0 defeat to Greece is one of the enduring images of the tournament.
Costa also took part in the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, scoring Portugal's winning goal in their 4–0 win over Poland. The only time in his career that Costa was sent off was in an international game against Germany.
Despite being principally a provider, Costa scored 26 goals in 94 games; he is Portugal's fourth-highest appearance maker and seventh-highest goalscorer.
Rui Costa was sponsored by American sportswear company Nike and appeared in Nike commercials. In 1996, he starred in a Nike commercial titled "Good vs Evil" in a gladiatorial game set in a Roman amphitheatre. Appearing alongside football players from around the world, including Ronaldo, Paolo Maldini, Eric Cantona, Luís Figo and Patrick Kluivert, they defend "the beautiful game" against a team of demonic warriors, before it culminates with Cantona striking the ball and destroying evil.
On the following day after his final professional game, Costa was presented as the new director of football, hiring Quique Sánchez Flores as the new manager of Benfica and being responsible for the formation of the team in the next season.
During the 2008 Summer transfer window, Costa was able – already as director of football – to sign a few well-known players, such as Argentine playmaker Pablo Aimar and bringing in Spanish winger José Antonio Reyes and Honduran striker David Suazo in on loan, thus gaining general praise from both board and fans alike.
On the following Summer, Costa further increased his efforts to build a more strengthened Benfica team following a disappointing league campaign in the previous season.
He would make several high profile signings such as Argentinean striker Javier Saviola, Brazilian attacking midfielder Ramires and Spanish defensive midfielder Javi García, along with experienced Portuguese manager Jorge Jesus. His major signings would prove to be successful as Benfica would win the Primeira Liga in the 2009–10 season for the first time in five years. Benfica would also win the Taça da Liga in the same season defeating rivals FC Porto in the final.
- Primeira Liga: 1993–94
- Taça de Portugal: 1992–93
- Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira: Runner-up 1991, 1993
- Serie A: 2003–04
- Coppa Italia: 2002–03
- Supercoppa Italiana: 2004
- UEFA Champions League: 2002–03
- UEFA Super Cup: 2003
- Intercontinental Cup: Runner-up 2003
- FIFA U-20 World Cup: 1991
- Toulon Tournament: 1992
- UEFA Under-18 Championship: Runner-up 1990
- European Under-21 Football Championship: Runner-up 1994
- UEFA European Football Championship: Runner-up 2004; 3rd Place 2000
- Toulon Tournament Best Player: 1992
- Toulon Tournament Top Scorer: 1992
- UEFA European Championship Teams of the Tournament: 1996, 2000
- FIFA XI: 1998
- UEFA Champions League: Top Assists 2002–03
- FIFA 100
- SJPF Player of the Month: September 2007
- Benfica Player of the Year: 2007
- A.C. Milan Hall of Fame
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- "Rui Costa assina hoje" [Rui Costa signs today]. Record (in Portuguese). 25 May 2006. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
- "Eusébio radiante com regresso de Rui Costa" [Eusébio radiant over return of Rui Costa]. Record (in Portuguese). 26 May 2006. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
- "Austria Wien 1–1 Benfica". ZeroZero (in Portuguese). 22 August 2006. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
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