Chelsea striker Diego Costa sets up school in Brazil to 'help the kids stay away from the streets, stay away from drugs'

The Chelsea striker returns from a three-match ban for stamping tonight but appears to have a heart of gold off of the pitch

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The Independent Football

Chelsea striker Diego Costa returns to action tonight after serving a three-match ban for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can in the Blues’ 1-0 after-extra-time victory over Liverpool at the end of January, and it’s fair to say the Brazilian-born Spain international has a reputation for being a hot-head on the pitch.

But off it, it appears he has a heart of gold. The 26-year-old explained to Chelsea’s official website that he has started a project back in his native homeland to help the children of Lagarto by teaching them through education and football.

Costa hopes to help the lives of Brazilian children in an effort to keep them off the streets and out of trouble, and opportunities such as the project Costa is overseeing can be the difference between a life of success or crime and failure in a country such as Brazil.

 

He told www.chelseafc.com: “I started with this project with the help of my agent, and the main goal is to open some doors for the kids that I didn’t have open for myself.

“I wanted to help the kids stay away from the streets, stay away from drugs, and the academy can only bring new things to these kids. There is more to win than to lose.

“The school is not a big thing yet. I originally thought I had to give something back to my city, that’s why I created this. Lagarto is a small town so it will grow little by little.

“We’ve got great professionals working in there. The kids have food, good medication, a good quality of life, there is nothing missing.”

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Costa was suspended for stamping on Emre Can, and he also clashed with Skrtel (pictured) in the same game

The beauty of sport is that it can teach young children lessons that can be used later in life, away from the football pitch. Of course, given Brazil’s incredible wealth of talented and skilful footballers – think Pele, Zico, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Neymar – it would not be a surprise if Costa and the coaches being employed at the school unearth the next gem of Brazilian football, but the Chelsea favourite explains that education comes first.

“The coaches are always happy and open to help with anything. Some of the kids may not become professionals in the future but they will be better people,” he added.

“The main target is education rather than football. I want children to attend the school and not miss any days. I don’t have any lucrative aim, and I am happy to have this school.”

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Costa hopes to improve the standard of life for children in his homeland

Costa’s incredibly generous motives provide a reminder that footballers aren’t as bad as the flack they often receive, as demonstrated by Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil last year. Fresh from winning the Fifa World Cup in Brazil, the German playmaker donated his World Cup bonus fee to the operations of 23 young Brazilian children in a heart-warming and life-saving gesture that will be remembered by those who benefitted long after Özil retires from the game.

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Mesut Özil posted this picture on his Facebook account

It also echoes Brazilian Formula One legend Ayrton Senna, who made it his mission to give back to his country’s younger generation as he set up Senninha, before his sister Vivienne founded the Ayrton Senna Foundation that rewarded children who went to school with the provocation of free sport.

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Vivianne Senna, sister of Ayrton Senna, and president of the Ayrton Senna Foundation

Such is the clamour to play sport in Brazil, the children would attend school where they hadn’t before the foundation was created.

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