I used to have an obsession with Gabriel Batistuta, probably the best striker in the 1990’s not named Ronaldo. This obsession led me to following Fiorentina, so I think I’m also well qualified in assessing Rui Costa’s career – and my assessment is that if anything, that goal against England justified the manager’s decision in bringing him off the bench.

He wasn’t the same player at Milan that he had been at Fiorentina and had lost half a yard of pace.  Of course he still had the same quality, which is why coming on near the end of the match when the other players were tired, was the perfect opportunity to work his magic.

Also, Rui Costa’s game was never about his finishing but his elegant and incisive passing and movement. Despite the hype about Figo when he became a Galactico, Rui Costa was as integral part of the Euro 2000 team which tragically lost in the semi-finals of Euro 2000.

There’s really no doubt in my mind that that team with passing of Rui Costa, the movement of Joao Pinto, the speed of Sergio Conceicao, the cutting edge of Nuno Gomes and the all around awesomeness of Figo was far superior to the 2004 team which reached the final and was definitely one of my favourite teams of the last ten years. (their defence was really good as well btw)

Actually on Euro 2000, its easy in retrospect to look back on that as a great French team because they did have great players. But they were very, very lucky. They were outplayed by Spain in the quarters and reliant on Raul missing a penalty after some black magic by Djorkaeff, won a knife edged match against Portugal, and then were outplayed again in the final before sneaking an equaliser in stoppage time after Del Piero choked away the match.

To be fair, winning that semi-final meant they deserved to win the tournament. That was possibly the best all-around match I’ve ever seen and as much as I wanted Portugal to win that one, they had to deal with a certain Mr Zidane.

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