London: Chelsea striker Diego Costa has copped a lot of criticism for his disciplinary problems during the current English Premier League (EPL) season, but the Spain international has found some much needed support from Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney.
Costa, who is also going through a patch of poor form, has repeatedly clashed with rival players, earning more yellow cards than goals so far this season. He had also picked up a three-match ban after his infamous clash for stamping on Liverpool's Emre Can and was involved in a minor scuffle with a steward at Stoke City last week.
The 27-year-old was also slapped with another three-match ban earlier in the season after a physical confrontation with Arsenal defenders Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel Paulista during an ill-tempered EPL tie.
But Rooney, who was himself known for his mercurial temper during the early part of his career, asserted that Costa's fighting spirit adds an extra edge to his game.
"He's a fighter and I think that's part of his game and it's going to be very difficult for anyone to ask him not to do that. I feel that's in him -- that fight. He thrives on that and that gets his team-mates going as well," Rooney was cited by the British media on Friday.
Rooney also revealed that he had voted for Costa as the player of the year last season because he felt that the Brazilian-born striker was an asset for Chelsea with his goal scoring skills and aggression. Costa had scored 20 goals last season as he helped guide Chelsea to the EPL title.
"I actually voted for him as player of the year last season because I think he was a huge player for Chelsea," Rooney said.
"I think what Chelsea missed the season before was that fight up front and he gave them that and I strongly believe that's why they became champions," he added.
"Obviously it hasn't gone as well as it did last season for him but I think he is a fantastic player."