Image Credits: Reuters
Spain’s all-time top international, and World Cup, goalscorer this week has decided to hang up the boots. The 37 year-old had a very illustrious career, playing in Spain, USA, Australia, and Japan. Breaking records in every league he played in. In a quote this week, David Villa described his retirement as, “It’s better to leave football before football leaves me.”
The Spainard started off his career in the youth team of Sporting Gijon, before making his way to their senior team with an impressive goal record of 38 in 80 games. This goal scoring rate earned him a move to Real Zaragoza, where he achieved his first silverware with a Copa del Ray at the end of the 2004 season – the club have not won the trophy since. Nonetheless, it was his next move to Valencia where many remember him for being at his best. From 2005 to 2010, David Villa scored over 20 goals in each season – totalling 108 goals in 166 games. Andy Brassell this week, talking on the podcast On the Continent, compared his time at Valencia to that of Henry’s at Arsenal – with both eventually ending up at Barcelona – he would just produce magic for the fans each week. He would play the game for fun, scoring from all angles with both feet and was never pressured by the moment at all.
It was during was 2008 Euros, where Raul was dropped for the tournament, controversially, and it was Villa’s time to stand up to the mark. He scored a hat-trick in Spain’s inaugural match against Russia, and despite getting injured in the semi-final, which led to him missing the final, he still earned the Golden Boot. His Spain career did not end there, as went on the crucial part of Spain’s first ever World Cup triumph in 2010 – being joint top-goalscorer. At the end of 2010, he would be named in Fifa’s World Eleven, a title many do give credit for, but he was simply the best out and out striker in the world at this time.
In May 2010, Barcelona managed to prized him away from Valencia – with many now looking back, arguing he may have stayed one or two seasons too many at Valencia. It was at Barcelona where he won the trophies his ability deserved – 5 major trophies in 3 seasons, under Guardiola, including Champions League, La Liga, Copa del Ray, and Club World Cup.
At the age of 32, he decided to leave Catalonia for the capital, joining up with who would become Barcelona’s fierce rivals Atletico Madrid. During his time in Madrid, he achieved a further league title – Athleti’s first in 18 years. In his second season, he went on loan to the Melbourne City, not having a great time, only playing four times. After which, he joined New York City, both owned by City group which also own Manchester City, at which he returned to his goal scoring ways – scoring 77 in 117 games.
He spent four seasons in the States, before joining up with fellow Spanish teammate, Iniestia, at J-League side Vissel Kobe. The pair, and the club, were hoping the two would be able to produce some of the magic they had at Barcelona.
However, with the club in tenth position with three games left this season, it is not likely to be grandstand finish he was hoping for, perhaps reflecting his comment on retirement “it’s better to leave football before football leaves me.”