Diego Costa has confirmed that his allegiances now lie with Spain ahead of next summer's World Cup in Brazil, as reported by The Daily Mirror.
It's the beginning of a story which could end up with the Atletico Madrid striker firing La Roja to success in Brazil, the country he has decided to snub following what he clearly feels has been one snub too many on their part.
He represented Brazil in two friendlies in March, but has not been included since and was still eligible to switch who he played for.
On the pitch I fought with everyone, I couldn't control myself. I insulted everyone, I had no respect for the opposition, I thought I had to kill them.
Boys who grew up playing in academies are taught to control themselves and respect others, but no-one ever told me otherwise, I didn't have a school to teach me this. I was used to seeing players elbowing each other in the face and thought it was the norm.
They're traits which have followed the 25-year-old to Europe with Braga—who, with the help of Jorge Mendes, picked him up from Barcelona EP as a 16-year-old in 2006—but more famously with Atleti, who swooped for his signature in 2007.
Former Sevilla midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia accused him of racist abuse in a Copa del Rey match. He was also sent off against Rubin Kazan for pushing a defender over, and he had quite the rumble with Sergio Ramos in the Madrid derby in December 2013.
Following these incidents, Sid Lowe wrote in The Guardian that if Costa took his work home with him he "might walk through the door, goad the dog with a stick, surreptitiously elbow his wife out of the way on the stairs, shrug his shoulders innocently as she lay in a crumpled heap at the bottom and whisper insults to his children."
Now, though, at long last, the other side of Costa is in the spotlight. The bad side of his game is being outweighed by the good.
It's been a long time coming for those who have waited patiently at the Vicente Calderon: six years, a cruciate knee injury, four loan spells and one fulfilled buy-back option to be precise.
The wait looks worth it, though. Heading into the international break, Costa leads the Pichichi with 10 goals ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo; he scored that amount during the whole league campaign last season:
"Spain's top scorer". Diego Costa on today's front page. pic.twitter.com/bZdQ9y2yOu— AS English (@English_AS) October 7, 2013
The question now is sustainability.
Can Costa maintain the form which has made Radamel Falcao a forgotten man around the Vicente Calderon, or has he simply hit a hot streak?
The signs were there last season to suggest this was coming—although he only scored 10 league goals, he did actually manage 20 in call competitions—prompting thoughts that the former could be possible.
|2007/08||Celta Vigo (loan)||30||6|
|2011/12||Rayo Vallecano (loan)||16||10|
Costa could be here to stay.
And with Spain's continued pursuit of someone to fill their No. 9 role—Fernando Torres, David Villa, Alvaro Negredo, Roberto Soldado and Cesc Fabregas have all been tried there—Costa could provide the perfect solution.
As La Roja face a fight to keep themselves perched as the best team in the world next summer, it could be argued they need the bite which Costa would bring.
Vicente del Bosque certainly seems to think so.