After 19 years, 14 major trophies and more than 400 goals, David Villa has announced his retirement from football.
Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer with 59 goals, Villa will call time on his glittering career when the Japanese league season comes to an end in January.
The 37-year-old currently plays for Vissel Kobe in the J-League, his eighth professional club, where he hopes to bookend his career with an Emperor’s Cup win.
“As I’ve always said to myself, I prefer to leave football before football leaves me,” Villa announced at his press conference. “It’s a decision I’ve thought about a lot, that I’ve spoken about with the people that love me, with my family, with the people that have been by my side throughout my career.”
At the height of his powers, Villa was one of the most feared strikers in the world.
His ability with both feet — which came thanks to a broken right leg at the age of four that forced him to train his weaker left foot — made him a nightmare for defenders and lethal in front of goal.
Villa scored five goals as Spain won the World Cup for the first time in 2010 and four goals en route to the country’s second European Championship title in 2008.
At club level, he played an integral part in Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Barcelona side — widely considered the greatest team of all time — winning two La Liga titles and the Champions League in a prolific three-year period that saw him amass a remarkable eight titles.
Before his success in Catalonia, Villa won major titles at Real Zaragoza and Valencia, where he made his name, and went on to win another La Liga crown after leaving Barcelona for Atletico Madrid.
After his retirement, Villa will be a lead investor in new US football franchise Queensboro FC.
The club, based in Queens, New York, will play in the USL Championship, the second tier of football in the US, from 2021.
“I lived and played in New York for four years. I know what a special place Queens is,” Villa is a USL statement. “I love the cultures, the food, the people and their passion for life and, of course, soccer.
“There is no other place like it in the world. It’s a dream to help build this football club in Queens and I couldn’t choose a better location.”
New York businessman Jonathan Krane is also a lead investor alongside Villa.