NEW YORK: For Spanish striker
, the chance to start afresh in Major League Soccer with New York City at Yankee Stadium proved irresistible in his quest to add to his legacy.
Villa, Spain’s all-time top scorer, last month became the first player signed by New York City FC, co-owned by Manchester City and the New York Yankees, who will debut in 2015.
“Being in New York City, being there in the beginning as a founding member, being the first guy, those were all factors,” Villa, 32, said through an interpreter yesterday at Macombs Dam Park across the street from the stadium.
Villa, who played at three World Cups including Spain’s 2010 triumph and was at Spanish giants Barcelona before moving to Atletico Madrid and helping them win the Spanish league last year, said he liked the idea of building something new.
“I’ve done a lot over there (Spain), but once I heard the vision and everything (here), I was on board and wanted to be a part of it,” said the bearded Villa, diamond studs glittering in each ear, after a Q & A with players at a youth tournament.
“I’ve done a lot already in Europe, a very, very good career. An opportunity to start from zero and start all over again is something that I thought was exciting,” he said.
Villa was soon joined at the New York club by England and former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, which has added to the Spaniard’s excitement.
“He’s a legend. He’s one of the greatest,” Villa said. “The opportunities will be great and I’m excited to see what we can do together.”
New York City’s sporting director Claudio Reyna said Villa’s decision to join the club spoke volumes about the improving MLS.
“We had to sell him on our vision, our project,” Reyna told Reuters. “He really believed in it and knew he would be a central figure in it. We had to also hope a little, because he had a lot of other big clubs interested in him.
“I think it talks a lot about New York City and talks about New York City FC and also MLS and it’s growth. All those things combined.”
Asked if he would feel pressure to succeed in the Big Apple, the veteran of multiple La Liga campaigns and World Cups, Villa replied: “I’ve done it in the past, so I’m excited for it.
“I want to work hard and leave a winning legacy, right from the beginning be a winning team. Just remember the name, David Villa.”