David Villa: The unstoppable force
When the world watches the Spanish striker performs
Born: Dec. 3, 1981, in Langreo, Spain
Nickname: El Guaje (The Kid)
Clubs played for: Villa cut his teeth with northern Spanish sides Langreo and Sporting Gijón B before breaking into Sporting Gijón's first team in 2001. El Guaje made over 80 appearances up front for the Rojiblancos (Red-and-Whites) in the Segunda División before moving to Real Zaragoza in 2003. After winning the Copa Del Rey in 2004 — scoring against Real Madrid in the final — Valencia paid $16 million to cash-strapped Zaragoza in 2005. Villa has since made 212 appearances for Los Che, scoring 129 goals. Valencia, itself now desperate for cash, is perpetually increasing the starting bid for Villa, 28.
International career: Something magical happens to Villa when he pulls on Spanish red — in 55 appearances he's scored 36 goals. During major tournaments, Villa is unstoppable. At the 2006 World Cup he scored three goals; at Euro 2008, four goals earned him the Golden Boot; and at last year's Confederations Cup he netted three strikes.
Why is he so special? Villa is almost impossible to mark because he anticipates the run of play and the movement of the ball better than the world's top defenders. Andrés Iniesta and Xavi can always find Villa running into open space because he understands the first rule of being an effective striker: You want to score? Move!
His most famous moment: Former Spain manager Luis Aragonés decided to employ a new counter-attacking 4-4-1-1 formation against Russia in Spain's first match at Euro 2008. The Spaniards overran Russia and won 4-1. Villa, at the head of Spain's attacking thrust, scored a hat trick; each goal an example of his positional prescience and excellent scoring touch.
He said it: "I would love for my daughters (Zaida and Olaya) to come along and see me at the (2010) World Cup but that is not possible…But I still dedicate every goal I score to them."
What they're saying about him: "He's a scoring player that constantly creates danger and who guarantees 30 goals per season, no matter if his team is good or not." — Cesc Fàbregas, Arsenal captain and Spanish teammate.
Here is an interesting fact: Every July, Villa holds the David Villa camp in his home city of Llanera. This July he will be hoping to bring the World Cup to fascinate the nearly 200 participants.