Sao Paulo: Football legend Pele has backed Diego Costa`s decision to commit his future to Spain, describing the Brazil-born striker`s move as "courageous" and "correct".
Speaking at an event in Sao Paulo Monday, Pele said the Atletico Madrid player had been under-valued by Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
"I think we have to respect his decision," Pele said. "He tried to explain that he hasn`t been recognized for some time and for that reason took the decision to play for Spain. He was courageous and I understand."
Pele`s comments contradict a tide of criticism against Costa within Brazil. Scolari last week accused the 25-year-old of "turning his back on the dream of millions" while Brazilian Football Confederation president Jose Maria Marin vowed to seek all legal avenues to block the switch.
"This is about patriotism," Pele said. "But it depends on your point of view and he has the right to choose.
"He said that in Spain he has had opportunities and for that reason he prefers to stay there."
"He is another player that could have represented Brazil. I have the impression that he made the right decision given that he hasn`t been recognized in Brazil."
Costa is the leading scorer in Spain`s La Liga this season with 13 goals from 12 matches.
Last week Spain`s football federation (RFEF) revealed the forward had signed an official document expressing a desire to represent his adopted country.
Costa earlier this year played two friendlies for Brazil but was overlooked by Scolari for the Confederations Cup in June.
He has lived in Spain since 2007 and holds a Spanish passport.