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Alex Costa

Written by Loz and last updated September 2010

alex_santos.jpg Alex, the longest serving new Chelsea player in the history of the club! Born on June 17th, 1982 in Niteroi, Brazil (also the birthplace of Brazilian football legends Gerson and Leonardo not to mention footballer/headbanger Edmundo) his full name is Alex Rodrigo Dias da Costa however, like many Brazilian players, his name was shortened due to the strict rules about letter box sizes.

His footballing career began with Santos (little bit of trivia for you, Santos was founded on the same day the Titanic hit the iceberg and, more commonly known, is the club Pele spent the vast majority of his career at) where he broke into the first team at the age of 20. He made 62 appearances for them between 2002 and 2004 and was part of the team that won the Brazilian title in 2002 and 2004.

pietdevisser.jpg In 2004 he was spotted by Chelsea scout Piet de Visser (also the scout who identified John Obi Mikel as a good prospect and famously brought Romario and Ronaldo to Europe) and on his recommendation Chelsea signed Alex and instantly sent him on loan to PSV Eindhoven due to the fact he wouldn’t qualify for a work permit. Of course we can say all this with some certainty now however the deal was not always as clear cut and for a couple of seasons there was ongoing speculation about whether or not Chelsea actually owned the player.

At PSV the fans nicknamed him “The Tank” due to the fact he is built like a brick sh*t house (well lets hope it was for that reason and not because he has the turning circle of a 1930s Soviet Tank. He played for PSV for three seasons and in that time he filled his medal collection up courtesy of a domestic league and cup double in 2004/05, followed by a second and third title in the next two seasons. In addition he helped PSV reach the Champions League semi final in the 2004/05 season and in 2005/06 he scored at both ends as PSV knocked Arsenal out at the first knock out stage (how we laughed!)

alex%20vs%20arsenal%20in%20cl.jpg After a season ravaged by injuries in 2006/07 Chelsea decided to bulk up their squad prior to the 2007/08 season. They let Khalid Boulahrouz go out on loan after an erratic debut season leaving the first team squad with only two established centre halves in John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho. If the previous season had taught Jose anything it was that having three centre halves was not enough, let alone two! So in came Tal Ben-Haim on a free transfer from Bolton (clearly not good enough for us as he didn’t cost in excess of £20m) and Chelsea finally decided that Alex had spent enough time in some pokey Dutch backwater (I will just set that one up for you Val) and looked into securing that elusive work permit.

Some have claimed that the transfer from PSV to Chelsea cost them a mere €1 as this was the buy-out clause in the contract with PSV however this entirely ignores the fact that Chelsea financed the deal taking Alex from Santos to PSV (rumoured to be for £5m) and picked up some, or all, of his wages during his three year stint at PSV.

alex%20signs%20with%20club%20secretary%2 The work permit was granted on August 2nd, 2007 and after completing a medical and agreeing personal terms Alex signed a three year deal on August 10th. Will he have been worth waiting for? With Terry seemingly injured for the first month of the season it appeared we may get indication of that sooner rather than later. However, as usual, JT was back sooner than expected and it was an injury to Carvalho that gave Alex his first team opportunity, albeit only five minutes at the end of our 1-1 draw at Anfield on August 19th 2007.

Alex's season started solidly if not spectacularly. Terry made his usual ridiculously quick recovery from injury however he was soon on the treatment table again and an injury he picked up on England duty was to provide Alex with his first grand moment in a Chelsea shirt. Alex got the nod over Ben-Haim to partner Carvalho in the heart of the Chelsea defence in the Premiership game against Middlesbrough at the Riverside, a fixture which had, in recent seasons, brought as much joy as losing his house boat brought Tim W. In the second half we were leading 1-0 courtesy of an early Drogba goal but had been under a fair amount of pressure from a Boro team chasing an equaliser.

alex%20goal.jpg With 57 minutes on the clock Chelsea were awarded a free kick after Fabio Rochemback fouled Michael Essien. There was almost 35 yards between the goal and the free kick and with Lampard looking interested you generally expected it to be either chipped into the box or a Lamps special (i.e. high and wide). However this time we were to see something a little special. The Boro fans were still crying into their drinks (not sure if it about the free kick decision or because Boro was recently voted the worst place to live in the UK, Liverpool must have been closed for refurbishment when the judges went out) when when Lampard tapped the ball sideways and Alex hammered a swerving shot which beat Schwarzer all ends up and landed firmly in the top corner.

A series of injuries to both John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho provided Alex with more first team action then he had probably ever expected and by Christmas he had racked up just shy of 20 first team appearances. With this his confidence appeared to grow and although he still looks a little vulnerable to speed, he is rapidly proving himself to be a more than capable first team player. He is clearly well ahead of Ben-Haim in the pecking order, this despite the fact Ben-Haim has years of experience in the Premiership.

alex%20challenges%20samaras%20in%20premi Alex added to his stunner against Boro with Chelsea's third goal against Rosenborg in their Champions League match away in Norway. This time his 30 yard free kick went in more due to some atrocious goalkeeping than the quality of the strike. Although Chelsea fans looked forward to the day JT and Carvalho are reunited in the Chelsea back line it has to be said that Alex was contributing immensely thus reducing the pain felt by their absence. This was been made more impressive by the fact that he was playing in a back line that was constantly changing due to the rotation of Belletti, Ferreira, Bridge and Ashley Cole, and also the fact that Cech's injuries meant the goalkeeping was shared by Cech and Cudicini.

Throughout December and January it was pretty much a case of 'as you were.' Terry made a comeback to first team action but picked up another injury in the league defeat to Arsenal courtesy of a vicious tackle by Eboue which should have been punished with a straight red card. Alex continued to impress, and arguably got better and better. In the bizarre 4-4 Boxing Day draw with Aston Villa Alex got himself on the score sheet. Shevchenko played an excellent pass to Alex however Alex still had work to do but he ran onto the possession like a centre forward and showed neat footwork to beat the last defender and thump the ball past Carson.

alex%20berbatov.gif John Terry's seemingly endless ability to recover from injuries way ahead of schedule meant he was being pencilled in for a return to the first team mid February. This news lead to what would have previously been unthinkable, people questioning whether Terry should walk straight back into the first team. This was not a slight in Terry but more a recognition of the form and consistency that Alex had shown over the course of the season to date. Terry did make his comeback in Chelsea's 3-1 FA Cup win over Huddersfield on February 16th however he played alongside Ben-Haim with Alex getting a well earned rest.

The return to full fitness of first choice pairing Terry and Carvalho saw Alex's first team run outs diminish. By the end of the season he was mainly used in games against the so called 'lesser sides' and although this is understandable given the quality of JT and Carvalho Alex can justifiably feel somewhat hard done by as he was arguably our most consistent performer in the 2007/08 season.

The 2008/09 season saw Carvalho, from an injury perspective, cursed with less justice than a prosecution lawyer in a clear cut case of affray against a Liverpool footballer. Alex was to benefit from this as he established himself alongside John Terry in the heart of a Chelsea defence which was plagued by problems out of their control - namely the managerial 'f**kwittedness' of Felipe Scolari. Alex made 40 appearances in the 2008/09 season and, along the way, scored our 1,000th Premiership goal on November 1st, 2008 when he bagged the opener in a 5-0 demolition of Sunderland at the Bridge.

AlexLiverpool44FreeKickv2.gif His highlight of the 2008/09 season was his thunderbolt free kick from around 30 yards which pulled us back to 2-2 against Liverpool in the Champions League quarter final second leg - we would go on to draw 4-4 and qualify 7-5 on aggregate. As with the 2007/08 season it would be hard to pick many faults in Alex's performances over the

Prior to the 2009/10 commencing Real Madrid are rumoured to have offered in the region of £18 million for Alex (not confirmed by either club) which Chelsea rejected. An injury picked up early in the season, and the return of the Terry / Carvalho central pairing meant Alex didn’t start a competitive game until October in the Carling Cup against Bolton, his first start in the Premiership wasn’t until mid December against Portsmouth. By this time Chelsea had secured his long term future by getting him to put pen to a paper on a new 4 year contract which would run until the end of the 2012/13 season.

As in prior seasons Alex was to be a dependable squad player who, when called upon proved he was perfectly capable of being a first team regular. In the title winning 2009/10 season he played 16 league games, 6 FA Cup games (including picking up a winners medal when we beat Portsmouth), once in the League Cup and twice in the Champions League.

Alex was overlooked by Brazil when naming their squad for the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa (he was named as one of their back up players). After the World Cup Dunga was sacked as Brazil boss and replaced by Mano Menezes as Brazil boss. Menezes called Alex up for two friendlies played in October 2010.

The departure of Ricardo Carvalho to Real Madrid in the summer of 2010 meant Alex moved further up the pecking order. With Jose Bosingwa still not returned from long term injury the right back berth, at the start of the 2010/11 season was shared by Paulo Ferreira and Ivanovic meaning Alex was first choice centre half alongside John Terry.

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