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Who is Douglas Costa?

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While all of us have come to know Douglas Costa as an amazing player, Douglas Costa the person remains elusive.

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Douglas Costa has proven to be far and away the signing of the year, winning the Bundesliga players' vote as the best player of the first half of the season by a landslide. But who is this young Brazilian who played in the Ukraine for five years? Finding information about Douglas Costa's background isn't exactly easy.

Origins

Born September 14, 1990, Douglas Costa hails from the city Sapucaia do Sul deep in southern Brazil. As a boy, Costa played ball in the streets (MRV No Esporte). His father, a mechanic, supposedly named his son after a local soccer star, "so that I'd stand out from among the other boys," Costa says. That star was probably none other than the great Maicon Douglas Sisenando from neighboring Novo Hamburgo (Bundesliga.de). Oddly enough, it was on the youth team of Esporte Clube Novo Hamburgo where Costa's own career began.

Feliz dia das Crianças !!!

A photo posted by #⃣DC11#⃣ (@douglascosta) on

Early Career

After joining Novo Hamburgo, Costa soon caught the attention of scouts from the Gauchos, the first-league club Grêmio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense based in the state capital, Porto Alegre. Grêmio signed him at the tender age of 11, but things were not easy for the "new Ronaldinho." Despite his technical prowess, his slender physique nearly led Grêmio to cut him in 2002; fortunately, the club decided to give the precocious Costa time to develop (MRV No Esporte) - just not on Grêmio's youth team: he was loaned out to neighboring Casa-Lar Santa Catarina.

Grêmio would soon regret that decision when they then met Casa-Lar in a tournament. According to Grêmio's assistant coach at the time, Costa taunted the boys on his parent club: "When I catch you, I'll cut inside and eliminate you in competition!" On the eve of the game, Grêmio's coach even remarked, "We'd better be careful, since Douglas wants to play!" He was right: the next day Costa scored two goals for Casa-Lar, eliminating Grêmio from the competition. After scoring, he immediately ran over to Grêmio's coach and shouted, "I told you, you should have brought me!" The coach was not amused, but Costa's time with Casa-Lar swiftly came to an end, as Grêmio brought him back (Espn.uol.com.br).

Beginning a lifelong obsession with physical training, Costa set out to gain muscle mass, eventually putting on 8 kg (= 17.6 lb). In 2008, he joined the starting lineup of Grêmio's first team, scoring in his debut, a 2-1 victory over Botafogo (Espn.uol.com.br). International suitors soon came calling, among them Sir Alex Ferguson himself.

The Manchester United legend attempted to acquire Costa in 2009: Sir Alex considered Costa the brightest young star in South America at the time, but ManU could not cut a deal with Grêmio. They offered £7 million with performance-related add-ons, but Grêmio, in serious financial trouble at the time, demanded a whopping £21 million (Guardian); the club president moreover forbade Costa to accept Ferguson's invitation to visit ManU for a twenty-day evaluation (Goal.com/br).

Instead, in January 2010, Grêmio reached a deal with Shakhtar Donetsk, selling their star for €8 million. After five years, 202 games, 38 goals, and 40 assists in cold Ukraine - which Costa now looks back on as a crucial formative period - Bayern Munich came calling, signing Costa to the tune of €30 million. The rest is history.

Family

Douglas Costa is devoted to his family. He has an older brother and two younger sisters, Vitória and Amanda Costa. He is close to his mother, Marlene Costa, but he is especially close to his little sister Amanda, who lives with him in Munich. "We complete each other," Costa says in a recent Facebook documentary (linked at the bottom of the page). Douglas and Amanda Costa frequently appear in each other's Instagram accounts. They are indeed very close:

❤️ Minha companheira ❤️ mana sua linda ❤️ : @amandscosta #mysister

A photo posted by #⃣DC11#⃣ (@douglascosta) on

Costa's father was and remains an important source of motivation for his son, but their relationship is complex. Costa's father played soccer, but never made the cut to play professionally. He not only destined Costa for a soccer career with his name, but drove his son to succeed: according to Costa, "I never actually had the dream to become a professional soccer player. It was rather my father's great passion, who unfortunately couldn't become a professional. That drove and spurred me on. That is how I got the idea that I wanted to become a professional soccer player. It was an accomplishment for me and for my father, when I made it. And we both are very happy with this development" (Sport1.de).

Costa has also revealed a dark side to his relationship with his father: "He always said that if I wanted to play soccer, I couldn't drink, I couldn't smoke . . . He gave me advice that he himself didn't follow, as he used to drink alcohol, he smoked. He used to say, ‘If you wanna play soccer, you can't do that stuff'" (Facebook documentary).

In fact, Costa's father had a serious drinking problem. In Costa's own words, "The main reason why I have neither smoked nor drunk alcohol was that I saw how alcohol and drugs destroy many things. I experienced that in my own family" (Abendzeitung). He recently explained what he means: "My father drank for years, even at home. It was a bad experience that affected me so greatly that I never will touch alcohol."

When he drank, Costa's father "became aggressive. My younger sister Amanda in particular suffered because of it." Yet Costa now draws inspiration from even this dark episode: "My father stopped (drinking) ten years ago. He hasn't had a drop since then. Today, he is an example for me that I can look up to. He didn't need any therapy, but rather saw for himself what was wrong. His will impressed me" (Sport Bild interview, Jan. 2016). Willpower and work are Costa's mantras.

Marriage and divorce

It may come as a surprise to many that Douglas Costa came to Munich a married man: he married his long-time sweetheart Luisa Ramos in June 2014. She had followed him from Brazil to Ukraine. Their marriage, however, lasted little more than a year. Costa and Ramos soon divorced after his transfer to Bayern Munich, in August 2015. Costa thus would attend Oktoberfest as one of the bachelors - but bringing his sister Amanda. Costa has said, "That's life. Sometimes things just happen whether you want them to or not" (Bild - subscription only; pictures from Costa and Ramos's wedding are freely accessible in this Vietnamese article about their divorce).

A private life in training

The most important person in Douglas Costa's life right now, besides his sister, is undoubtedly his personal trainer and best friend Lucas Kruel. (You can tell someone trains hard when his trainer's name is Kruel.) According to Costa, "I really trust him completely" (Abendzeitung). A fellow Brazilian, Kruel has worked with Costa for over ten years. He is de facto family. In his Facebook documentary, Costa says, somewhat awkwardly, "Lucas for me is my wife - oh, I'm joking." When Costa called him and asked him to come to the Ukraine, Kruel followed, just as he has followed Costa to Munich. Kruel is an accomplished futsal player (a form of indoor soccer), and he quickly found a home playing in Bavaria for SSV Jahn 1889 Regensburg - Costa sometimes even attends their games. For a taste of Kruel and Costa's training regimen -  and ball skillz - check out this video from 2014:

There seems to be little room in Costa's life for anything other than playing soccer or training, but we can catch a few glimpses of other interests. According to Bundesliga.de, Costa is an avid poker player - no word yet on whether he has mastered the Bavarian card game Schaafkopf favored by Thomas Müller. Among his teammates, Costa is especially close to Thiago and Rafinha. "Thiago and I are the same age, have the same interests," he says (Abendzeitung). His countryman Rafinha acts as his interpreter on the team. Otherwise, when Costa is not playing soccer, his life revolves around family, friends, and training. As he himself says, he is determined to become the best soccer player in the world.

See Douglas Costa's new documentary of his life in Munich, featuring his trainer/friend Lucas Kruel:

INSIDE THE LIFE OF DOUGLAS COSTA (Full Documentary)

Querem ver meu dia a dia?WANNA SEE MY DAILY LIFE?Das ist mein Leben in München!If you like and share the video you can WIN 1 of 10 signed shirts or a MEET&GREET with me! Let´s go!Assista ao meu documentário, mas cuidado pra não se cansar também! Heheheheeh Curta e Compartilhe pra concorrer a camisas assinadas. Vou escolher uma pessoa pra passar um dia comigo!Wenn Du dieses Video teilst, kannst Du eines von 10 signierten Shirts oder ein MEET&GREET mit mir gewinnen. Pack ma´s zam!Muito Obrigado / THX / Herzlichen Dank:Lucas Kruel / Time VilleroyNepomuk V. Fischer / Oinkfilm / 1x1SPORTOcean digital & sports marketing#theflash #miasanmiaConfederação Brasileira de Futebol / Bundesliga / FC Bayern München / UEFA Champions League

Posted by Douglas Costa on Sunday, January 24, 2016