Re-living 5 key stats from David Villa's career as the former Spain striker announces retirement
Former Spain striker David Villa has announced that he will be retiring from football at the end of the ongoing J-league season in Japan next month.
The all-time top scorer for the Spanish national team, with 63 goals, Villa last played for Spain in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying game against Italy in September 2017 in Madrid. Villa scored the last of his 63 goals for Spain in a 3-0 victory over Australia in a group-match in Curitiba at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, as the defending world and European champions failed to make the knockout round.
Villa has come a long way from being confined as a four-year-old to a hospital bed in Tuiila, northern Spain in 1985 when a freakish accident rendered him bed-ridden for months. Months of recuperation with a cast over his right leg led to Villa becoming an ambipedal or two-footed player, an attribute that would benefit him immensely as he began to rise up the football echelons in Spain.
Once rejected by local club Real Oviedo for being too short and 'lacking potential', Villa first made his mark for Sporting Gijón in the Segunda Divisioó (Spanish second division) - against the same club which had 'rejected' him. After two seasons and 38 goals for Sporting, Villa made his move to the first division when Primera Liga side Real Zaragoza snapped up the promising 20-year-old for €3 million in the summer of 2003-04.
Villa's 17 goals in his first LaLiga season and four goals in the Copa Del Rey, including one in a 3-2 win in the final against Real Madrid, caught the attention of the bigger clubs. Subsequently, a move to Valencia materialized in 2005-06.
Villa's 25 goals in his debut season for Valencia included a brace in a 2-2 draw with Barcelona at Camp Nou, winners against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu and Barcelona at the Mestalla, and a stunning five-minute hat-trick against Atletico. Villa had announced his arrival on the big stage and it didn't go unnoticed as he made his Spain debut in a 2006 World Cup qualifier against San Marino, scoring in a 1-1 playoff draw with Slovakia which booked Spain's passage to the World Cup.
On his World Cup debut against Ukraine, Villa scored a brace in Spain's 4-0 win. He also scored in a 1-3 loss to France in the Round of 16.
Villa scored his first hat-trick for the national team in a 4-1 win over Russia at Euro 2008. Spain went on to win their first European Championships in over four decades, and Villa picked up the golden boot at the tournament.
Villa scored three goals in the 2009 Confederations Cup and followed up with five at the 2010 FIFA World Cup as Spain became the first European nation to win the quadrennial tournament outside of Europe. Following five productive seasons with Valencia, it was time for the 29-year-old Villa to move to one of the biggest clubs in the country.
The Tuilla native would call the Camp Nou his home for the next three years, scoring 48 goals in 119 appearances. In one of the most productive phases of his club career, Villa won the 2010-11 and 2012-13 Liga titles, the 2011-12 Copa del Rey, 2010-11 Supercopa Espana, 2010-11 UEFA Champions League, 2011 UEFA Super Cup and 2011 FIFA Club World Cup.
He scored Barcelona's third goal in the Champions League final with a sumptuous long-range curler.
The arrival of Neymar precipitated the departure of Villa to Atletico Madrid after three trophy-laden seasons at the Camp Nou. And Villa would make his mark at yet another club side, as his 13 Liga goals led to an improbable Spanish top-flight title - sealed incredibly at the Camp Nou with a 1-1 draw on the last day of the season.
Villa's second hat-trick for Spain in a 10-0 thumping over Tahiti at the 2013 Confederations Cup was but a false dawn. The striker's lingering injuries and declining reflexes coincided with the end of Spain's six-year golden era at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, where the defending champions fell in the group stage.
With his stint in Spanish club football also drawing to a close, Villa chose to venture to pastures anew by joining Melbourne City in the A-league in 2014-15. That was followed by a four-year stint in the MLS with New York City, before his final club stint with Japanese J1-league side Vissel Kobe in 2019.
Widely regarded as one of the best players of his generation when in his prime, Villa was an opportunistic and potent goal scorer. Despite his short stature Villa was a good dribbler, possessed a good work-rate and was a penalty and freekick specialist.
His versatility enabled him to be deployed in a variety of attacking roles - ranging from second forward and attacking midfielder to winger and centre-forward.
As Villa prepares to wade into the sunset, drawing a 19-year career to a close, let us re-live his five most notable stats.
#1 Spain's second-most prolific penalty taker
David Villa's nine successful penalties for Spain is second only to Fernando Hierro's 10. During the course of his illustrious career, Villa scored 68 penalties for club and country, missing 13, for an impressive success rate of 84%.
#2 Most hat-tricks for Spain
Together with his strike partner Fernando Torres, Villa has a record three hat-tricks for the La Furia Roja. Villa's three-goal hauls came against Russia at Euro 2008, Azerbaijan in a friendly, and against Tahiti at the 2013 Confederations Cup.
#3 Spain's all-time top-scorer at the FIFA World Cup
With nine goals in three World Cups (three at the 2006 World Cup, five at the 2010 World Cup and one at the 2010 World Cup), Villa is Spain's all-time record scorer at the quadrennial tournament.
#4 First Spanish player to score 50 international goals
Villa is the first Spanish player to score 50 international goals, a landmark he reached by completing his brace against Czech Republic in a 2-1 win in the 2012 Euro qualifiers.
#5 Spain's second-most prolific scorer at the European Championships
After his former strike-mate Fernando Torres (five), Villa's four goals (all scored at the 2008 Euros) is the most by a Spanish player at the European Championships.Published 14 Nov 2019, 21:31 IST