|David Villa. Courtesy NYCFC.|
New York City Football Club is losing its first-ever player, as their Captain David Villa will leave the team at the end of his contract on December 31, 2018.
Villa spent four glorious years with NYCFC, in which he scored 80 goals in 124 MLS matches.
The Spanish World Cup winner, who previously played for European clubs including Barcelona, will announce the next destination very soon.
“I can only say thank you, thank you to everybody. First, to City Football Group that gave me the opportunity to come here. To NYCFC and MLS for accepting me. To everybody at the Club who helped me day-by-day.
“Thank you to the people in the offices, the people working with the team and the coaches and staff. Thank you to my teammates - without them it would have been impossible to be successful. Thank you to the people working in the media that always gave me the respect and the love.
“Obviously, our fans. I remember the first day I showed the jersey and the supporters were there. I would have liked to give the supporters the MLS Cup, but I don’t have any doubts that in the next years the Club will get it for sure.
“My experience here was amazing. It gave me everything as a soccer player, as a person, and as a family man. I’ll always remember this experience with love. My heart is here and I’m an NYCFC supporter forever.”
Villa was announced as New York City FC’s first-ever signing on June 2, 2014, joining from Atletico Madrid. Already Spain’s leading goal scorer, a World Cup winner and a European champion, Villa joined NYCFC with the reputation as one of this generation’s most devastating strikers, yet he arrived like a man with a point to prove.
Villa scored goals from the start in MLS, netting NYCFC’s first Yankee Stadium goal in the historic home opening win vs. New England Revolution, before going on to accumulate 18 in his debut season.
Vice Chairman of NYCFC Marty Edelman said, “David Villa encompasses the values that we have here at New York City FC. The impact he has had on not only this Club, but in this City, cannot be measured in just goals or assists.
“We thank David for helping us build NYCFC and wish him the very best moving forward. It’s been a memorable and historic first four seasons with David at the helm. We are proud of the milestones we’ve reached together which have set the foundation for the Club which will continue to grow for years to come.”
NYCFC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna said, “David has been an incredible ambassador and Captain to this Club since the moment we signed him. His professionalism and leadership helped us through the challenges that a new team faces when they come into the league. He’s represented New York City FC tremendously both on and off the pitch and has been a real leader for this football club.
“I truly believe that David will be remembered as one of the best players to ever play in MLS. He will forever be a legend amongst all of our wonderful supporters and everyone here at NYCFC wishes David nothing but the best in the remainder of his career. He will always be a part of NYCFC.”
His first season was just a taste of what was to come as he scored 23 goals in his second season, leading the team to the MLS Playoffs for the first time and winning the 2016 MLS MVP award.
In 2017, he scored 24 goals across all competitions, despite playing in fewer games than the previous season, as NYCFC finished runners-up in the Supporters’ Shield race – a tally which included his first-ever hat-trick for the Club in the unforgettable 3-2 Hudson River Derby win over the Red Bulls in the Bronx.
This incredible form earned David a recall to the Spanish national team in September 2017, and he received a hero’s reception when he won his 98th international cap vs. Italy, three years after his last appearance for La Roja.
In what proved to be his final year at NYCFC, David overcame various injuries to lead the team in goals, with 15 scored in 23 starts, proving his enduring quality as he helped City to a third-straight postseason campaign scoring in the Knockout Round win over Philadelphia.
One of the highlights of this past season came in April vs. FC Dallas when he scored the 400th goal of his career, elevating Villa into the pantheon of greats to have netted over 400 goals at the highest level.