Portrayed as a pantomime villain in some quarters, Chelsea striker Diego Costa has said he will not be changing his aggressive style of play to win new friends.
The Brazil-born Spain international has gained a reputation for provoking confrontations since his arrival at Chelsea where his 20 goals helped them win the Premier League last year.
He served a three-match ban after being found guilty of violent conduct during last month’s 2-0 win over Arsenal, a punishment that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho said was evidence of a “witch hunt” against his player.
Costa, who has struggled for goals so far this season, said his priority is helping his side, not being the good guy.
“Some people seem to think football is like theatre, and that everyone has to play the good guy,” he told the BBC in an interview that will be aired on Saturday.
“But I think that you transform when you cross the white line, you’re not the same person as off it. I give no quarter and I ask for none. Out there I’m going to fight for my team and do the best I can.
“I got where I am because of the way I play. I’m not going to change because of other people’s opinions.
“On the pitch you do everything to win the game, when the match is over I go home to my friends and family, I joke around, I’m a normal guy, but on the pitch don’t put wings on me because I’m no angel.”
Costa said he has had to learn to look after himself in the Premier League, where he believes referees give less protection to attacking players.
“I receive fouls that would result in yellow or red cards in Spain, but here it’s seen as part of the game,” he said.
“The countries have different footballing theories. But I’m not going to start complaining. It’s my job to adapt to the culture and the way the game is played here, not to complain.
“I think that my efforts are there for all to see.”
Chelsea have made a poor start to the season and are in 12th place, 10 points behind leaders Manchester City, going into this weekend’s London derby at high-flying West Ham United.
However, Costa says rumours of discontent in the Chelsea dressing room are way off the mark.
“Things aren’t going so well for the team right now, but it’s not because of the changing room,” said Costa.
“The atmosphere is great. During the year I’ve spent here, there hasn’t been one argument. There are normally disagreements in all changing rooms, but it hasn’t happened here.”