LONDON • Chelsea striker Diego Costa has admitted that he was "wrong" to throw a bib at his manager, Jose Mourinho, but insists that the incident has not affected his "amazing" relationship with the Portuguese.
The Spain striker tossed his fluorescent pink bib towards his manager in the dugout at White Hart Lane two weeks ago, a fit of pique in protest at the fact that he was neither selected for the starting XI nor introduced as a substitute during Chelsea's goalless draw with Tottenham Hotspur.
Speaking about the incident for the first time, Costa described his display of insubordination as a "mistake", but made plain that it has not caused a rift between the struggling striker and his embattled manager.
"The bib (incident) is in the past," the 27-year-old said. "I made a mistake, but my relationship with Jose Mourinho is amazing, and that is that. We get on really well. There are things you need to control, but the bib thing was an impulse."
Costa has managed only four goals this season and found himself not only dropped from Mourinho's stumbling side, but also the target of specific criticism from his manager after returning from his summer break out of shape.
Mourinho has been candid in his displeasure with his striker's performances on a number of occasions, suggesting that his movement is not up to scratch and querying whether he is "reading the game correctly".
The two exchanged heated words during the Champions League game with Maccabi Tel Aviv last month.
Rather than bemoan unfair treatment, Costa accepts that his manager has a point, acknowledging that he is running the risk of not being selected for the Spain squad for next year's European Championship.
"I need to improve a bit," he said. "The start of the season has not been good for me. Not in how I have played, not in goals.
"The truth is, Chelsea have not been in a great moment, above all losing the other day at home (to Bournemouth).
"I have to improve a lot of things and play better for (Spain manager Vicente) del Bosque to take me to the Euros. If not, then my colleagues who are playing better will go."
THE TIMES, LONDON