Batistuta had scored 13 in their first 13 league fixtures while Rui Costa was in the midst of his best ever season in front of goal – one that would end with him scoring 14 times.But, when Batigol was struck down with an injury, il Maestro lost his muse and Fiorentina imploded, winning just two of their next 11 league games to finish third.Though he continued to impress both domestically and in Europe, by the time Rui Costa lifted that second Coppa Italia in 2001, Batistuta was long gone and the club was on the brink of disaster.Despite showing immeasurable loyalty to the Florence club having received repeated offers from elsewhere, it wasn’t long before history repeated itself, with Fiorentina forced to sell Rui Costa to help cover their mounting debts that same year.He joined AC Milan for €43million that summer, tearfully announcing the deal in a press conference. “We didn’t play together because he left the same summer I signed for Fiorentina. The football player is married to Rute Costa, his starsign is Aries and he is now 48 years of age. “I can only wish him the best. He’s someone who transmits great energy and is used to achieving objectives. Milan needed someone like Zlatan because he’s able to drag his teammates. “However, I was lucky enough to know him and appreciate him. “He wasn’t only a teammate but also a friend who helped me in many situations. “There’s still a long way to go this season, both for Milan and Fiorentina: the Viola will finish in a calm position and the Rossoneri will make Europe.” Arriving at the newly-moneyed Fiorentina, managed by Claudio Ranieri at the time, Rui Costa found a team crying out for someone to set the tempo and, in Gabriel … Rui Costa On 29-3-1972 Rui Costa (nickname: Manuél) was born in Amadora, Portugal. Discovered by the legend of Portuguese football Eusebio, Rui Consta started out in Benfica's youth sector at 9 years of age. It was the start of a beautiful friendship.“Out of all the strikers I played with, he had the best knack of scoring goals,” Rui Costa said.“He could score a goal from anywhere. “I love Stefano and owe him a lot," the Portugal icon told Corriere dello Sport. A leader of the golden generation that won the Under-20 World Cup on home soil, in 1994 he moved to Fiorentina. Seven years of excellent passing earned him the attention of AC Milan that signed him in summer 2001. Rui Costa played alongside Stefano Pioli at Fiorentina in the 1990s, and he is confident the Milan boss has what it takes to guide the Rossoneri back into Europe. Lewat gol-gol Batistuta dan Rui Costa itu juga Fiorentina berada di peringkat ketiga klasemen akhir Serie A. Musim 1998/1999 menjadi yang terbaik bagi Fiorentina dalam dua dekade terakhir. Age doesn’t count for him, even at 38, and we’ll soon see how he’s still in the right shape. “He decided to come to Milan for reasons other than money. Whether it was for Portugal, Benfica, AC Milan or, most famously, Fiorentina, Rui Costa was the beautiful game incarnate.A swashbuckling attacking presence in the famously defensive Serie A, the Portuguese playmaker did things most footballers could only dream of, skilfully gliding past defenders, finishing chances with aplomb or delivering pinpoint passes at pace.Rui Costa made team-mates look good, opponents inferior and, at a time when Italian football dominated terrestrial broadcasting in the UK, made Calcio a better spectacle than it could have ever possibly hoped to be.A product of Benfica’s famous youth academy, Rui Costa’s story is the stuff of club legend, having first been discovered by Eusebio at the age of just nine.Part of the ‘golden generation’ of Portugal players that won the 1991 World Youth Championship under Carlos Queiroz, Rui Costa was among the stars of the tournament, scoring the winner in the 1-0 semi-final victory over Australia and converting the decisive penalty in the shootout triumph against Brazil in the final.Yet, even at that tender age, his play was about so much more than goals.“Rui is a master in the art of conducting the ball, covering it expertly,” Queiroz once reflected. “The way he dictated play, and let us not forget those mazy dribbles and cool decision-making.”In truth, it was a little more complicated than that. “He is a playmaker who can decide a game, marking its rhythm with the ball at his feet and his eyes on the game.”The next few years saw Rui Costa emerge as the main man for Benfica, forging the first of many pivotal attacking partnerships with compatriot Joao Pinto and firing the club to the Taca de Portugal in 1993 and Primeira Liga title a year later.A big move abroad loomed large in the summer of 1994, with Benfica on the brink of bankruptcy and in desperate need of funds to stave off the unthinkable.Barcelona and Fiorentina emerged as the front-runners to land the Portuguese, but Rui Costa resisted the overtures of Johan Cruyff and the Camp Nou to take the less-trodden path.It was a decision initially made out of loyalty to Benfica – Fiorentina offered the Lisbon giants more money for their star man – but it wasn’t the last time Rui Costa put the needs of the team ahead of himself.“Rui did not go to Barca out of love for Benfica,” Manuel Barbosa, the Portuguese businessman who brokered the deal, later told Record.Arriving in Florence to much fanfare in a €6million deal, Rui Costa didn’t know it at the time, but he was about to fall in love all over again.Arriving at the newly-moneyed Fiorentina, managed by Claudio Ranieri at the time, Rui Costa found a team crying out for someone to set the tempo and, in Gabriel Batistuta, a striker desperately seeking a midfield foil.He was only too happy to oblige, injecting a new dynamic into the Viola’s attacking play with his exquisite close control, dribbling and Paul Scholes-like eye for a pass that earned him the nickname ‘The Prince of Florence.’The goals didn’t immediately flow, but then Rui Costa wasn’t that kind of player, once declaring: “It’s creating goals that fulfils me, more than scoring them.”Even so, his first for Fiorentina was a screamer, coming after seven games into the 1994-95 season against Padova via an assist from Batistuta.The pair would combine once again a week later against Brescia where, with Rui Costa bearing down on goal, the Portuguese played a slick one-two with his Argentine team-mate before finishing with aplomb.

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