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Seldom has there been a striker who has won almost everything there is to win at the highest level yet be underrated. This is testimony to the quiet way David Villa goes about his job and also to his being part of an era where the limelight is hogged by players like Messi, Ronaldo, and Ibrahimovic. David Villa is as prolific a striker as it gets. He has scored goals in every team that he has played for, be it lowly Sporting Gijon, mid-table Zaragoza, or top teams like Spain and Barcelona. He can play upfront as the loan striker, play off a bigger stronger forward like Fernando Torres or play in the rotating front three as he did in Barcelona.
David Villa comes from a modest family, his father being a miner, perhaps driving him to working harder and a greater ambition. He started his football with local team Langreo FC and his displays caught the eye of teams such as Sporting Gijon and Real Oviedo. Real Oviedo rejected him on the grounds of being too small. Real’s loss would be Sporting’s gain. In 2 seasons Villa racked up 40 goals in the Secunda division. He was consequently snapped up by newly promoted Real Zaragoza. His first season for Zaragoza in 2003-04 was superlative. He scored 21 goals and led them to a Copa del Rey triumph over Barcelona. His rich vein of form continued in the next season leading to a lucrative move to the Mestella. His exploits for Valencia were unprecedented that season with 35 goals in all competitions. By this time he had started to stake a claim for the striker’s role in the Spanish team alongside Raul and made it to the 2006 World Cup where he would score the opening goal against France in the round of 16. Spain, however lost the match 3-1.
More was to come in the next season with Villa shining in the Champions League helping them to reach the knockout phase. He was consistent but not spectacular in the 2007-08 season, a season of managerial changes and uncertainty with the Copa Del Rey being the only silver lining that year.
This below par season would ended with a bang in Spanish Colours, with Villa setting the Euro 2008 tournament alight, with 4 goals in the tournament including a hat trick, guiding Spain to the European Championship title, their first major international win since 1964.
By now his status as Spain’s prima donna striker along with Fernando Torres was firmly established. He scored 5 goals in the 2010 World Cup including the sole goal against Portugal and Paraguay as Spain went on to win their first World Cup. After these superlative performances there was an increasing demand to secure the services of this talented player who had regularly caused havoc alongside the likes of Mata and Silva. He thus signed for Barcelona that summer leaving Valencia having scored 128 goals in all competitions for them.
The transfer to Barcelona was time for things to improve even further as he won his first Champions League and La Liga title in the historic treble winning season. The attacking trio of Messi, Villa and Pedro in Pep Guardiola’s tiki taka style ravaged past oppositions as all three went on to score in the 3-1 win over Manchester United in the final. The next season he suffered a broken tibia leading to a 8-month layoff. He did return in November but was mostly left on the bench till the end of the season. Also the signing of winger Alexis Sanchez and development of Cristian Tello meant he was getting limited opportunities at Barcelona.
The signing of Neymar this season meant that Villa would have even less playing time and this being a World Cup year, he sought newer pastures. He was courted by many clubs such as Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur but he eventually chose to leave for Atletico Madrid. His start to Atletico Madrid was splendid to say the least, where he scored a stunning goal against Barcelona in the Super Cup. His new pairing with Diego Costa has been a revelation and together they look like taking Atletico to greater heights this season.
Villa has won 3 Copa del Rey titles, 2 La liga titles, and 1 FIFA Club World Cup along with winning the European Championship and the World Cup. He also holds the record for being the highest all-time goal scorer for Spain with 58 goals.
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David Villa is associated with various charities and social causes. He sang a record for a benefit project in Mali. He also constantly supported and inquired about the plight of the Chilean miners who were trapped for 69 days in a mine, sending Barcelona shirts to boost their morale in difficult times.
Injuries have unfortunately plagued David Villa’s career. His injury in the semi final of Euro 2008 and his subsequent injury in 2012 meant that he missed the final of Euro 2008 and altogether missed the 2012 tournament.
This is the year of the World Cup and Spain have an apparent dearth of quality strikers. Who better to call upon to help them get out of this rut other than talisman David Villa. Though he has lost a bit of pace, his instinct for goal and ability to pull of the extraordinary will be extremely useful if Spain are to retain their World Cup title.