Earlier today, David Villa Sanchez announced his intention to retire from professional football at the end of the year, a decision that further reminds us that we are nearing the conclusion of a phenomenal football era in Spain.
Coming from the small town of Tuilla in North Spain, Villa overcame a nasty childhood injury to his right femur to make his professional football debut with boyhood club Sporting Gijon in 2001. He went on to become one of the most complete players of his generation with a resume that would be the envy of most footballers today.
The Spaniard made his La Liga debut when he moved to Real Zaragoza two seasons later and tasted his first victories in the division in the form of their Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana wins.
Villa had already garnered a reputation for being one of the best strikers in the Primera Division before making a €12 million switch to Valencia in 2005. It was not long before Catalan giants, Barcelona, knocked on the doors of Los Che in pursuit of the young forward who made waves at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The Blaugrana paid a fee of €40 million for his services in the same year and reaped immense harvests as he later helped them to La Liga and Champions League titles. The talisman managed 48 goals in 119 games despite Lionel Messi's tangential role in the squad but soon moved to Atletico Madrid to make way for the arrival of a young Neymar Jr.
He lifted yet another La Liga trophy at the Wanda Metropolitano before departing the Spanish top-flight to join upstart MLS franchise New York City FC where he is currently the club's record goal-scorer. In 2018, Villa moved to Japan where he is presently plying his trade for J-League outfit Vissel Kobe.
In the span of his 19-year-long career, Villa formed an integral piece of Spain's golden era from 2008 to 2012 alongside the likes of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. He boasts of being the country's all-time top-scorer with 59 goals in 97 matches and famously helped them to the UEFA Euro 2008 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup titles.
Villa's club career in numbers
Total Matches – 482
Total Goals – 230
Total Assists – 54
Total Trophies – 12 (3 La Liga, 3 Copa del Rey, 3 Supercopa de Espana, 1 Champions League, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 FIFA Club World Cup)
For Sporting Gijon (2001-2003)
Total Matches – 3
Total Goals – 2
Total Assists – 0
Trophies Won – 0
For Real Zaragoza (2003-2005)
Total Matches - 94
Total Goals - 38
Total Assists - 03
Trophies Won – 02 (Copa del Rey 2003-04 and Supercopa de Espana 2004)
For Valencia (2005-2010)
Total Matches - 219
Total Goals - 127
Total Assists - 22
Trophies Won – 01 (Copa del Rey 2007-08)
For Barcelona (2010-2013)
Total Matches - 119
Total Goals - 48
Total Assists - 24
Trophies Won – 08 (La Liga 2010-11 and 2012-13, Copa del Rey 2011-12, Supercopa de Espana 2010, 2011, Champions League 2010-11, UEFA Super Cup 2011, FIFA Club World Cup 2011)
For Atletico Madrid (2013-2014)
Total Matches - 47
Total Goals- 15
Total Assists - 05
Trophies Won – 01 (La Liga 2013-14)
For New York City [MLS] (2014-2018)
Total Matches - 126
Total Goals - 80
Total Assists - 21
Trophies Won - 0
For Melbourne City [A League] (2014; Loan)
Total Matches - 04
Total Goals - 02
Total Assists - 0
Trophies Won - 0
For Vissel Kobe [J1 League] (2019 – Present)
Total Matches - 26
Total Goals - 12
Total Assists - 02
Trophies Won - 0
Villa’s international career in numbers
Total Matches - 98
Total Goals - 59
Total Assists - 12
Trophies Won – 02 (FIFA World Cup 2010 and UEFA Euro 2008)
#1 Villa's goal for Real Zaragoza in the Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid on 17 March 2004 paved the way for a career full of similar memorable goals.
#2 He proved his goal-scoring prowess when he was Valencia’s top goalscorer for all the five years he spent at the club.
#3 It's difficult to forget the Spaniard's phenomenal third goal for Barcelona during their 3-1 win over Manchester United in the 2010-11 Champions League final at the legendary Wembley stadium.
#4 He established his status as a Clasico hero when he scored twice against Real Madrid in November 2010, with Barcelona winning the contest 5-0 at the Camp Nou.
#5 Villa even made his Atletico Madrid debut with a bang, netting a goal against his former club Barcelona in the Supercopa de Espana first leg in 2013.
#6 Villa is currently the all-time top goalscorer for New York City FC with 80 goals under his belt.
#1 Villa's three goal-scoring contributions during Spain's final group stage game against Chile in the 2010 FIFA World Cup defined his career with the national team. The former Barcelona man went on to receive the Silver Shoe and the Bronze Ball after scoring five of Spain's eight goals in the tournament.
#2 He won the UEFA Euro 2008 Golden Boot and was named in the UEFA Euro 2008 Team of the Tournament after helping his side to the continental title.
#3 Villa remains Spain’s top goalscorer of all time with 59 goals in 98 matches.
Villa bids farewell as one of the most prolific and under-rated strikers in the history of Spain. A player of his calibre does not come often and his exploits will surely be missed as another legendary career comes to an end.