Brazil left to count the cost as hotshot Diego Costa opts for Spain

Brazilian-born striker confirms he will play international football for Spain

At the start of the month, as English football deliberated over whether it was right to chase Manchester United's Adnan Januzaj, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque sat down to lunch with Brazilian forward Diego Costa.

On Tuesday, the courting paid off because Costa declared in a letter to the Brazilian FA, and to Fifa, that he wants to play for Spain.

There is no moral maze for the world and European champions - Fifa's rules mean that, despite appearing in a friendly for Brazil, the top-scorer in Europe can still play for them. Unashamedly they have pursued the switch.

On Wednesday, Costa was due to be named in Felipe Scolari's Brazil squad. But instead the coach said he had 'turned his back on his country' and he will now be named in Del Bosque's.

Football films have been made from weaker scripts. There's potential for Escape To Victory meets Kramer vs. Kramer. Especially if the custody battle ends with him scoring the winner in the World Cup final - Scolari being played by Gene Hackman, obviously.

Costa lived in Brazil until the age of 15, when he went to Portugal with his father and signed for Braga. Aged 17 he was sold to Atletico Madrid where, after several loan spells and a serious knee injury, he finally blossomed on loan at Rayo Vallecano in the second half of the 2011-12 season.

With nine goals in 16 games he kept them up, showing the first signs that beyond the weather-beaten exterior there was a world-class forward emerging.

The following season he went back to Atletico Madrid as Falcao's able partner and this season he has replaced him. With 11 goals in 10 games nobody has scored more in Europe.

This July the 26-year-old gained dual nationality. He still pronounces “futbol” as “futebol” but he has a Spanish passport and on 3 October, before Spain's last two World Cup qualifiers, Del Bosque met him for lunch and told him that he wanted him.

Jorge Perez, the secretary of the Spanish FA, was also present, as was Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo. Costa told them that if selected he would accept.

On 14 October the Brazilian FA said that, though it had not “capped” Costa, it intended to. Coach Scolari inadvertently confirmed this when he was caught out by a practical joke on Spanish radio. He told a prank caller impersonating Cerezo: “If the World Cup was today I would bring him to Brazil.”

Was “Big Fil” bluffing to cover himself against the potential embarrassment of rejecting someone who then wins the World Cup with Spain?

Scolari called Costa up for the next round of international friendlies ahead of schedule, last week claiming the player needed extra time to apply for a visa to enter the US and Canada, where Brazil play next.

Spain say Costa needed to go through no such application process. He will be named again in the full Brazil squad tomorrow but his letter rejects the call-up.

Brazil could legally fight for him, saying as World Cup hosts they had no official games to play - an argument that partially falls down on their failure to pick him for the Confederations Cup.

The case is reminiscent of Real Madrid's Brazilian defender Pepe switching to Portugal. And just to thicken the plot: the Portugal manager at the time of Pepe's switch was Scolari; and the agent of Pepe, Scolari and Costa is Jorge Mendes.

It is international football's biggest “signing”. And it will mean Spain add Costa to a born-again Fernando Torres, David Villa, Alvaro Negredo and Roberto Soldado as their striking options as they look to defend their crown in Brazil.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss