He arrived anonymously from the Portuguese third division to explode at AS Monaco, before winning the Champions League under José Mourinho! Remaining very attached to the club which allowed him to make a name for himself, José Da Costa, known as “Costinha” in Portugal, was present in the Principality to giver the ceremonial kickoff in the Derby last Friday. dernier. After visiting the Performance Center and before attending the match, the former Portuguese midfielder took the time to talk about his years in Rouge et Blanc 🎙
Avant de donner ce soir le coup d'envoi fictif de la rencontre, 𝗖𝗼𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗵𝗮 était de passage au Centre de Performance 😍
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) September 22, 2023
Hello José. To begin with, how does it feel to come back here to the Stade Louis-II?
First of all I have to thank AS Monaco for the invitation. It really touched me, because it remains a very special club for me. And I’m not saying that just to be nice, but because they are the ones who allowed me to go from the Portuguese third division to the French Ligue 1 championship.
The managers had the courage to sign me and thus gave me the opportunity to become a professional footballer. So today is special for me, because it’s been a long time since I’ve been back to Monaco. I have also seen that everything has developed a lot since then, and for the better!
What do you think about the new Performance Center which you have just visited?
This is something fantastic! With such an infrastructure, players can only perform well. The President has done a great job for the Club, and I hope that the players and staff make the most of it and are aware of how lucky they are to be part of this project.
Tell us about the circumstances of your arrival after the title in 1997…
At first I was a little scared, I have to tell the truth! When you go into the locker room and you see players who were on the front page of magazines, like when I bought Onze Mondial, or who were on TV, it was impressive. But the luck I had was that they were immediately kind to me.
They were patient, and were good teachers for me. I tried to do everything to give back to them what they gave me. It’s not easy, but if you have the right mentality, you want to progress and you understand that Monaco is not the good life but the Club above all, you can also do something beautiful.
Among the great players you have played with, which ones have had the greatest impact on you?
I don’t dare give just one name, because I spent four very good years here, during which I had good relationships with everyone. Everyone left me with great memories, even the “elders” who helped me a lot. On the other hand, I have an anecdote. When I signed my contract at Clairefontaine, I suffered an adductor injury after morning training. I wasn’t supposed to do the afternoon one, and then John Collins and Ali Benarbia came to my room with Martin Djetou.
They spoke in English with me and said: “Come on, let’s train!”. I tell them I can’t because I’m in pain, and Ali turns to John and says: “Another tourist!” And they leave. After thinking about it, I went to see the physiotherapist for treatment, and I went to training. At the end of the session, Jean Tigana comes to see me and says: “I want you to sign for four years!”. I still wonder if they hadn’t come to see me in my room, if I would have gone out to train.
Was it obligatory at the time to hope to win at AS Monaco?
Yes, because when one is young, it’s easy to lose one’s focus. So if you let yourself go, it doesn’t work. You have to think about the fact that Monaco is a big club which must compete for the title. And the players of the time made me see things like that, even if in my state of mind, I was already aiming to surpass myself.
What have Jean Tigana and Claude Puel brought to your play?
When I arrived here, Jean Tigana showed me all his tactical nous, because I was running all over the place (smiles). He said to me: “José, where is the goal? Stop wasting energy here and there.” So he took time with me to explain and tested my character with certain decisions, to see how I would react. Then, Claude Puel gave me the confidence that a young person who does not have the CV of an experienced player needs. Because I came from a very small club.
He even gave me the responsibility of being captain of the team, so that says something. And then he also gave me the desire to never give up on a mental level. Sometimes he made me play center back, and he saw that I wasn’t feeling well and that I was acting out. And at the end he said to me: “If I put you at the back, it’s because I trust you José!”. He made me understand that sometimes coaches make choices for the good of the team. And you have to accept that.
Tell us about winning the title in 2000 with Claude…
(He corrects) There was also the Trophée des Champions with Jean Tigana in 1997 against Nice! It was my first match with AS Monaco, and I came on in the sixth minute of play, to replace Diawara who was injured. Then winning the title in 2000 was incredible!
I think that with the squad we had, we could even have won another trophy during the season: the UEFA Cup for example. We lacked a little experience, because we were very young. We always had fun in each match. Not to mention the party at the end, which was incredible!
There was quite a team at the time!
Yes this is true, and above all there was a great mix of players with experience: Fabien (Barthez), Sabri (Lamouchi), Marco (Simone). And young players, with Ludo (Giuly), Marcelo (Gallardo), Pablo (Contreras), Christanval, Djetou, Sagnol, Riise, Pršo, Leonard… I was 26 years personally, but we had an incredible team! The fact that we were very united as a squad meant that we had an exceptional season.
What match had the most impact on you this season?
(Without thinking) The one in Auxerre! I remember that at the end of the match, we started singing on the bus that we were going to be champions! Because at the time, winning at Abbé Deschamps was very difficult. We had an exceptional match there, and we said to ourselves: “If we aren’t stopped here, nothing is going to stop us!”.
Who were the players with whom you had the best technical relationship?
I got along very well with Sabri (Lamouchi) in midfield. He’s a very intelligent player who played higher up the pitch than me, while I managed the defensive duties behind him. In general in a squad, even if you change partners on the pitch, if you do things correctly, it works. There was also Marcelo (Gallardo), who was like a brother to me, and who played even further up front. But in a midfield duo, we really had a great understanding.
🎙️ "𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙎𝙝𝙤𝙤𝙤𝙤𝙤𝙤𝙤𝙤𝙩 !"
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) January 9, 2020
What do you remember from these four fantastic years looking back?
Lots of great matches! Being French champion was also something incredible. I didn’t know what it was at the time, and the party was wonderful with the supporters. As well as that, my best memory here remains having the chance to join the Portuguese national team thanks to my performances at AS Monaco.
I remember as if it were yesterday the day Jean Tigana came with the fax in hand, the day before the match at Le Méridien. He told me: “Listen, the world is upside down, you’ve been called up to the national team!”. He was laughing with me, and it’s something I won’t forget.
How did you realize that the Club was steeped in history?
I remember that in 1994, Rui Barros was playing in the Cupwinners Cup with AS Monaco in Lisbon, and I went to see the match. Perhaps that was the day I began my story with this great club. In any case, he will remain in my heart all my life! Because he is the one who brought me to a high level, and that is something you must respect, not forget and say THANK YOU!
There will remain only one “black mark” in our shared history, this Champions League final that you won… against Monaco in 2004!
Unfortunately, even I had mixed feelings. I was obviously happy, because winning a Champions League is something special. But at the same time it was against Monaco, and I saw the faces of certain Rouge et Blanc supporters with whom I had remained friends, very sad at the bottom of the stand. I went to greet them. Unfortunately it was a final and we had to win it.
Any last words for our fans?
I have to say THANK YOU to them! May they continue to support AS Monaco as they always have, because it is a great club. And from the bottom of my heart, I hope that they will again have the opportunity to celebrate titles here at the Stade Louis-II!