David Villa - The most underrated striker of the 21st Century

David Villa FIFA

David Villa FIFA

Born in Tuilla, Spain in 1981, the legacy of David Villa started in a small mining village with a population of just 1,491 people.

In the year of Villa's birth, his local club CD Tuilla finished 9th in Spain's Regional Preferente division.

From humble beginnings to conquering the world, the story of David Villa is one that will go on to inspire a generation.

The Legacy of David Villa

A prolific striker who turned out regularly for Spanish giants such as Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, the latter of which could be argued where he truly made his mark.

Scoring 108 goals in 166 appearances for Valencia, Villa established himself as one of the most deadly strikers in Spain's top division.

Not content with being a domestic powerhouse, Villa went on to establish himself in the Spanish national team, helping his side to claim the European Championship in 2008 and the World Cup in the swirling drones of Vuvuzelas in South Africa.

2010 proved to be quite the year for Villa, with the striker leaving Valencia to join Pep Guardiola's Barcelona, a move that would see him link up with Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, amongst other superstars.

Guardiola, widely considered to be one of the most influential managers in footballing history, described Villa as 'indispensable' during his time in Catalan.

Overall, Villa scored 33 goals in 77 matches for Barca, scoring a vital goal in the Catalan club's memorable Champions League final victory against Manchester United.

One Major Regret

Speaking to Marca before his retirement in 2019, Villa asserted that the only regret he carried from his career was never playing in the Premier League.

"I would like to have played in the Premier League" Villa stated.

Liverpool, managed by Rafa Benitez at the time, were the main party interested in Villa, but instead, they ended up with his fellow countrymen Fernando Torres.

Villa never arrived in England, instead remaining in Spain and going on to score 185 goals in 353 La Liga games, amassing an impressive goal-to-game ratio of just over 0.5

Villa may never have played in England, but his admirers were worldwide.

In 2014, Villa left Spain for the first time in his career, joining City Football Group-owned New York City FC, before moving on to brief spells with Melbourne City and finally Vissel Kobe.

Overall, Villa played 665 games in club football, scoring 338 games.

He remains Spain's overall top scorer, amassing 59 goals in 98 international games.

Enduring Influence

The stats of David Villa's career are there for all to see, but it is the unwritten influence that remains prevalent today.

Villa was a key member of the Barcelona squad that heralded so much success between 2010 and 2013.

His incredible goal-scoring talents were matched by his ability to pass the ball and drift past opponents, inspiring countless forwards that would go on to play as inverted wingers, a position Villa perfected in Catalan.

Whilst in New York, Villa still scored goals aplenty, inspiring a generation of MLS fans as the division continued to grow in popularity and legitimacy.

His legacy even spread to Japan, where his side Vissel Kobe captured the Emperor's Cup in the Spaniard's last-ever game.

At a time where Spanish football has dominated the influence of the beautiful game, it's important to remember that many of the dominant modern-day forwards are moulded in the ilk of Villa.

The man from the small mining village perfected the craft of the total forward, a player that can score, assist and occupy multiple roles.

A vital cog in the machine that has defined a completely new era of football, David Villa should be remembered as one of the greatest forwards to ever lace a pair of boots.

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