(Reuters) - Spain striker Diego Costa does not believe he will face the wrath of the home nation at the World Cup having turned his back on playing for Brazil.
“So far it has been fine and people have treated me how I expected although it may not always be like that,” Costa told a news conference at Spain's World Cup base in Curitiba on Tuesday. “I feel relaxed as I have the support of a lot of people who understand what the situation is.” Costa reacted angrily last week to claims from the Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari that he had contacted the player and offered him the chance to play at the World Cup.
Costa said it was only the Spain coach Vicente delBosque who had been in touch and gave him an opportunity.
Brazilian-born Costa chose to represent Spain where he plays his club football with Atletico Madrid and made his debut for Spain in a friendly against Italy last March.
He was a revelation in La Liga last season, scoring 36 goals as Atletico won the title and reached the Champions League final.
Costa is from the Lagarto in the north east of Brazil and there is overwhelming support for him in his hometown with plenty of Spain flags and shirts on display.
“We are a small corner of Spain in Brazil and they have won 100,000 Brazil fans,” his brother Jair told Spanish newspaper As.
Costa’s family will travel the 350 kilometres to Salvador de Bahia to watch Spain’s opening game on June 13 against the Netherlands.
“My parents are very happy because now I am closer to them. They have always supported the decision,” Costa said.
Costa is a player rival fans have come to hate for the way he looks to wind up the opposition players but away from the pitch he has a likeable charm and has been warmly welcomed by his Spain team mates.
“They treat me in a special way and I feel very comfortable there. It has been incredible. I am going through a great period at the moment and I have to be grateful for it,” he said.
Costa came through a fitness test against El Salvador last weekend having suffered recurring hamstring problems in the latter stages of the season.
He played most of the friendly and suffered no ill-effects.
“I needed that game to get rid of the fear that I might suffer another injury. The last two times I felt fine, then played and had a repeat of the injury. Now though I feel a lot better,” said Costa.
“It is normal to be anxious before the start. We face a very strong team and we are all training each day to be at our best.”
(Writing by Tim Hanlon in Barcelona, editing by Ed Osmond)