By Nick Chavez (@NickChavezMLS)
The world was once again reminded why fans across the globe chant “Villa Maravilla” in the presence of New York City’s Captain this past Friday in Chester, Pennsylvania. The ever-predatory David “El Guaje” Villa caught Jamaican international goalkeeper Andre Blake too far off of his line and dropped a gem on him from 50 yards out.
As memorable as that golazo was, it should be noted that Villa has a long history of scoring goals like that and, really, every type of goal you can think of. This is one of the most prolific goalscorers in the history of the world’s game. And I’m here to remind you, or perhaps, tell you for the first time that David Villa is also quite simply one of the very best players to play the sport of soccer.
One of the very best, though I don’t expect that you’ve heard that very often in regards to David Villa. Yes, he’s a multi-time champion. Yes, he’s a legendary forward for Valencia, the Spanish National Team and, perhaps, even for FC Barcelona and Atletico de Madrid fans.
But how often do you hear people put Villa in the same sentence as the very best players of all time? Players like Pele, Maradona, Zidane, Messi, Ronaldo. Even the Cruyffs and George Bests of the world. I don’t, but he very much belongs in that number, if you consider his resume.
Yes, David Villa’s legacy and career is underrated, and I’ll just use this article as one piece of evidence, where David Villa doesn’t even make this list of the “Top 50 Greatest Footballers Of All Time”!
In my experience, this exclusion is more typical of the opinions of most football fans and pundits than not. But, is his frequent exclusion from this conversation fair?
Well, here’s a challenge for you. Find me another player that was absolutely instrumental in winning a World Cup (Where he won the silver boot, and has scored 9 goals all time in the competition), a Euro Cup (in 2008, and was the competition’s top scorer), the UEFA Champion’s League (scoring a golazo in the final against Manchester United, and reaching a second final with Atletico de Madrid), winning 3 La Liga titles, 3 Copas Del Rey, and a FIFA Club World Cup.
Some of the all-time greats mentioned and listed in that article can’t even boast a resume like that. But we’re not done yet.
Villa is also the all-time leading scorer in one of the most talented and successful National Teams of all-time with Spain, handily beating out world-class legends like Raul, Alfredo Di Stefano, Fernando Torres, David Silva, Andres Iniesta, and Emilio Butragueño in the running for that honor.
Still not convinced? El Guaje was also the top-scorer in, arguably, the top league in the world for 4 straight years while not even playing for one of La Liga’s “big two” clubs during his very successful stint with Valencia. Even with Valencia’s limited budget competing against two of the giants of the game, Barcelona and Real Madrid, Villa still out-produced any of their goal-scorers for 4 years in a row. That is some achievement, and imagine what he would’ve won had he decided to leave Valencia for one of his many suitors during those peak years of his career?
Nietzsche spoke of an Eternal Return: When the goals start in this Valencia highlights video (at around the 3rd minute), several of these goals look like exact replicas of some of the great golazos Villa scored more recently with NYCFC. Even some of those cheeky backheel passes are there. Class is permanent, and Villa has more class than a freshman.
What a coincidence that New York City FC’s Captain also helped break a 10-year Real/Barca vice grip on La Liga when he joined Club Atletico de Madrid, becoming Spanish league Champions and helping lead Los Colchoneros to their first Champions League Final in 40 years. Atletico achieved both of these rare feats during Villa’s only season with the club. Now, I’m not saying Villa is the main cause for these historic accomplishments, but that’s a hell of a coincidence.
In his next chapter, this decorated champion then goes on to Major League Soccer, a league renowned for its physicality and difficult travel, and at 35 years old carries an expansion side on his back, bringing them from a very disappointing first season to 2nd place in the Eastern Conference, its first playoff berth, and winning the MLS Most Valuable Player Award in the process.
Based on what we’ve seen during this young 2017 season, David Villa is showing no signs of slowing down.
How many great players can you name that have ticked off that many boxes? Who have literally won it all, scored more goals than most of their legendary peers, exceeded expectations with smaller clubs, and carried on being voted the best player in his extremely competitive league deep into his 30’s? This is a career of rare excellence and success at the very highest level, spanning 2 continents, various clubs and the most important international competitions. The fact is, the common thread in all of that wild success was David Villa.
When you consider this legendary player’s career and stats, it makes you wonder why he isn’t usually mentioned among the best players of all-time. And we didn’t even get into his famous professionalism, drive, heart and humility. You’d be hard-pressed to find a New York City FC fan who would tell you that Villa was anything less gracious and accommodating when meeting him.
Whatever your opinion may be, I write this to remind the soccer fans of New York to appreciate this quintessential champion while you still have him. This is a champion worthy of the affection of the great City of New York, and a fitting Captain for the only club representing it, New York City FC.
Appreciate his rare skill and indomitable spirit while he is still with us, because we never know when El Guaje will decide to retire or take his talents elsewhere, since there are currently many clubs in Europe who would still love to sign him, including in his beloved Spain. Take pride in the fact that your club has one of best players to ever play the game, period, regardless of how his seemingly unrivaled resume continues to fly under the radar when debating the all-time greats of the game.
Yankee Stadium has had many legends representing the City, performing at that level of skill that has made the Yankees synonymous with world class. Villa carries on that proud tradition, not in baseball, but in the world’s most popular sport. Remember what you have, New York, and appreciate him while he’s here. We have a living legend among us, and like you, he’s draped in Celeste. Always remember that your captain and first-ever signing is, without debate, one of the very best and most successful players of all time.