In the summer of 1991, Costa’s displays at Fafe had impressed Portugal Under-21 coach Carlos Queiroz so much that he was called up to the team to represent Portugal in the World Youth Cup. The Portuguese under-20 national team won a World Youth Championship in 1991. His clinching penalty kick against Brazil in the final helped win the title on home soil and announced Costa as one of the brightest members of what would become known as the “Golden Generation.” Costa was a member of Portugal’s most consistent years at senior level as the team reached the quarter-finals of UEFA Euro 1996, the semi-finals of Euro 2000 and the final of UEFA Euro 2004. Costa was especially instrumental in helping Portugal reach the 2004 final on home soil, scoring a screamer of a goal at the Estádio da Luz against England in the quarter-final match, and the sight of a distraught Costa at the end of a 1–0 defeat to Greece was one of the enduring images of the tournament. Costa also took part in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea, scoring Portugal’s winning goal in their 4–0 win over Poland. The only time in his career that Costa was sent off was in an international game against Germany. Despite being principally a provider, Costa scored 26 goals in 94 games; he is Portugal’s eighth-highest appearance maker and seventh-highest goalscorer.