International Ice Hockey Federation

“Enormous pride”

“Enormous pride”

Stephane Da Costa about the Worlds at home

Published 25.04.2017 15:10 GMT+2 | Author Pavel Lysenkov
“Enormous pride”
French forward Stephane Da Costa (left) celebrates a goal at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship with Damien Fleury. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
Playing for Ottawa and CSKA Moscow, beating Canada and soon the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship at home. We talked with French star Stephane Da Costa.

Who was the player you were looking up to in your childhood? Were any French players your role models?

When I was younger, my room and my brothers' room were decorated, filled of posters of legendary players such as Jagr, Bure, Messier, Fyodorov, Lemieux, Gretzky and many other exceptional players. We often watched NHL games on videos. After that, we were always trying to repeat the same moves during practices and it was interesting to learn a better way to think on the ice, to read the game.

When was the last time you played in one line with your brothers Gabriel and Teddy? Do you have a dream to play as one line for a French club or the national team?

We always dreamed to play on the same team and on the same line, but our careers showed different paths and made it difficult. Only Teddy had the opportunity to play with Gabriel in France and Poland and he played on the same line with me on the national team. Anytime we have the possibility to go on the ice together for a gala game or other reasons we jump on the opportunity. Family has a particular place in our lives, we are very close and always in contact.

Which place does ice hockey stand on among other sports in France? Why did you decide to start playing hockey?

In France, hockey represents about 20,000 players with a small federation compared to other team sports. Despite that, we all feel like a big family where everybody is involved – federation, clubs, officials, volunteers and parents. At a very young age, I lived in Dammarie-les-Lys, a small city in the region around Paris. There was a small arena very close from my home so I had the possibility to go there often. My brothers were already playing hockey and naturally I quickly had a passion for this sport.

The 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will be set in France first time since 1951. How important is this tournament for France right now?

This event will be very important for hockey in France and a nice challenge for our federation. Obviously, through the media, it is an enormous event that will allow fans of hockey in France to watch high-quality international hockey games and some of the best players in the world. I also believe that our federation has worked and is still working really hard to make this tournament special and to promote our sport in France. For us players, to live this special event at the highest level in our country and representing our flag is an enormous pride. I don't really know why France hasn't had the opportunity to organize this tournament since 1951 but one thing is clear, members of our federation work really hard to make this event successful.

What advice can you give to fans coming to Paris next spring?

The region around Paris is very big and transportation is very well organized with the metro, trains, tramways. There are also many ways to find accommodation in and around Paris from top hotels to apartments at moderate prices outside of the centre. There are many choices to spend a great time for everybody.

Which of the historic wins had the bigger impact in France – the win over Canada (3-2 SO, 2014) or against Russia (2-1, 2013)?

I think that any victory against a great nation is always a great accomplishment and attracts the media. For us players, it is different, we live it from the inside. These are moments that will stay in our memories forever. It is such a strong feeling. It is an indescribable feeling of pride and happiness.

Some people call you the best foreign player in history of CSKA. How can you respond on that statement? Is it honour for you to play for such a renowned club in the Europe?

First of all, I would like to thank all of the people for these nice compliments. The dream of each player is to leave a mark in the history of a big hockey club and win trophies with them. If on top of that it is a club as prestigious as CSKA, it is an enormous satisfaction. Obviously, many players would love to play for such a club with its magnificent past.

Last season you played on one line with Alexander Radulov. Is it a gift or a challenge to play on one line with an emotional forward like him?

It is a gift and a challenge at the same time. I need to be at the top of my game all the time to play with a player of his calibre. I played most of my first year with him and Grigorenko and it went really well. Last season has been a bit different because I arrived in Moscow after an injury at the World Championship in Prague. I had two surgeries that hurt most of my season.

Was the outdoors game in Tver the most unusual challenge in your career?

The outdoor game in Tver was my first-ever outdoor game in my life so it was a wonderful experience. The snow made it extremely difficult to play but I loved the experience.

You live in Moscow. Do you visit French restaurants or listen to French music? In other words, are you trying to create a ‘little France’ around yourself?

Moscow is an enormous and certainly beautiful city, dynamic, where culture is a big part. There’s gigantic monuments and beautiful architecture such as the orthodox churches. There is such a big variety of great restaurants that I don't necessarily miss French cuisine. Russian cuisine is very good also, it makes me remember what my mother, who is Polish, used to cook for me. I have the chance to know a good friend who lives in Moscow so I can speak French pretty often. I also have my parents visiting me quite a few times.


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