Every once in a while football is blessed by the presence of truly legendary figures like Pele, Diego Maradona or a Lionel Messi. These are men who redefined what it meant to be a world-class superstar by creating pure art on the pitch, and their legacies truly speak for themselves. However, sometimes there are players that have careers that some may say are even more impressive, but they don’t get the adulation they deserve. This is the story of one of the most underrated players in world football – David Villa.
"What's your favorite goal?"
David Villa: "The goal in the Champions League final, Wembley 2011!" pic.twitter.com/NQbTqB2YeZ
— infosmessi (@INFOSMESSl) October 6, 2016
As with many cheesy and stereotypical rises to prominence, David’s story starts from an early age. When he was just four years old he suffered a fracture to his femur in his right leg, throwing his entire footballing career into doubt before it even got started.
It would’ve been easy for his parents to put him in protective bubble wrap and never allow the young lad to play football again, but thankfully for us all that didn’t happen. His father in particular stuck by his side, through thick and thin, with both mother and father encouraging him to continue playing despite the fact that he grew tired of the sport.
They realised his potential and they saw something special in their son. As he continued to train and work harder with his father he became ambidextrous, also known as being equally equipped in both his left and his right sides.
David recounted years later about how his father would never miss a training session and continued to help him strengthen in every department necessary. As he began to progress, it became evident that the footballing landscape would never be the same once he bestowed his talent upon the world.
His early goalscoring exploits as a professional came with Sporting Gijon and Zaragoza which eventually gained the interest of Valencia. He went on to spend five years at the club from 2005-2010 in a move believed to be worth around €12 million.
From that point onwards, David Villa was making history year in and year out. With Valencia he won the Copa Del Rey and began scoring goals for fun, hitting the back of the net 28 times in the 2008-09 league season. It became obvious that they couldn’t hold off the interest from bigger clubs for much longer, and eventually he made the switch to Barcelona for €40 million.
It was at the Nou Camp that he sealed his legacy. He won La Liga twice and the UEFA Champions League for the first time, which included scoring one of his side’s three goals in the 2011 UCL Final against Manchester United at Wembley. But Villa didn’t stop there, as yet another transfer was on the horizon to Atletico Madrid for €5.1 million where he claimed his third and latest La Liga crown.
But wait, I hear you cry – what about his international career? One word – perfection. The legend scored 59 goals in 97 matches for Spain, during which time he became the nation’s all-time top goalscorer in addition to capturing a World Cup and European Championship winners’ medal. He succeeded the great Raul to become the No.7 and has scored more goals at the World Cup than any other Spanish man that has ever played the game.
Now, at the age of 34 years old, he still maintains his position as an elite striker – but now he resides over in America playing for New York City FC. He became one of the biggest signings in MLS history as well as having a brief loan spell with Melbourne City in Australia in order to keep up his fitness.
Some people ridiculed this move as they believed he still had plenty more in the tank over in Europe, but in reality can you honestly say you wouldn’t do the same? Villa has carved a path of greatness throughout his career, and now he has the luxury of choosing to play in a new and exciting league with no regrets. If football were an Xbox game, the Spaniard may well be closer than anyone else to completing it.