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Jorge Costa set for final challenge

Published: Tuesday 4 May 2004, 4.59CET
FC Porto veteran Jorge Costa is closing in on one final goal - a UEFA Champions League winner's medal.

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Published: Tuesday 4 May 2004, 4.59CET

Jorge Costa set for final challenge

FC Porto veteran Jorge Costa is closing in on one final goal - a UEFA Champions League winner's medal.
By Fergus O'Shea in La Coruna

With eight Portuguese titles to his name, a UEFA Cup winner's medal and appearances at both the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championship finals, Jorge Costa has been blessed with success.

Burning ambition
But as FC Porto's tough-tackling captain approaches his 33rd birthday, his ambition burns as bright as ever - and is focused on one thing, crowning his career by winning the European Champion Clubs' Cup for his beloved Porto for the first time since 1987.

'Last opportunity'
"This could be the last opportunity for me and some of my team-mates," Jorge Costa told uefa.com, before revealing the confidence that underlines his side's dramatic run to the last four of the UEFA Champions League.

'Very good team'
"This time last year we were a good team, but this year we have been a very good team and although we didn't play well in the last game against [RC Deportivo La Coruña] I do believe we can get to the final and win."

'Club symbol'
Such success would be the ultimate reward for a player Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa has described as a "symbol of the club". Nicknamed 'O Bicho' - the animal - for his no-nonsense approach, Jorge Costa started his career at the Antas stadium in 1992, and but for brief spells at FC Penafiel, CS Marítimo and Charlton Athletic FC, has been there ever since.

New deal
Jorge Costa left for Charlton in 2001 after a fall-out with then coach Octávio Machado. In his absence Sporting Clube de Portugal won the title; since his return, Porto have wrested the balance of power in Portugal back to the north and taken Europe by storm, winning the UEFA Cup last year, before this season's run to the Champions League semi-finals. Little surprise then that last month the Portuguese champions handed the veteran a new two-year deal.

'Mourinho No1'
Jorge Costa's experience and skill as a man-marker formed the bedrock of that success, spreading confidence throughout the side, but coach José Mourinho's leader on the pitch believes the credit lies elsewhere. "Mourinho is No1, he has it all," Jorge Costa said.

Attacking style
Jorge Costa does not know whether his coach will be with Porto next year. He has tried to ignore the rumours linking Mourinho with a host of top European clubs, but is sure Porto will not stray from the tactics which have served them so well. Mourinho's dedication to offensive football has brought goals and glory, and the Porto captain confirmed there would be no change against Deportivo in La Coruna.

'We can win'
"We will play as we always do and attack," he said, as Porto look to improve on the goalless draw two weeks ago. "Although we know it will be very difficult, we do think we can beat them and we are looking forward to it."

'Respect'
And after seeing Deportivo demolish last year's champions AC Milan 4-0 in the quarter-finals at the Riazor and beat Real Madrid CF 2-0 at the weekend, Jorge Costa is expecting a very open match. "This game will be very dangerous for us," he said. "We know what they can do at home, just look at Milan, and we have a lot of respect for Deportivo. I expect them to attack us."

'Beautiful thing'
Jorge Costa has described this year's Champions League as "a beautiful thing, a beautiful tournament" - there would be no greater thing of beauty for a Porto fan than seeing this loyal servant leaving the Riazor tonight a winner. Except, of course, beating Chelsea FC or AC Monaco FC in the final.

Last updated: 04/05/04 21.00CET

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