The idea of having a player like David Villa join a newly founded MLS club seemed illogical 5 years ago. When it finally happened many thought that he was only here to get a few commercial deals and call it a day. He had enough credentials to his name that alone was enough to let him do as he pleased. However, after 5 glorious years at the club he didn’t just prove his critics wrong, but also left a mark that will probably live on in the club’s history. Remember this date, November 28, 2018 as the turning point for both a city and club. A sad day indeed, were I return with my heartfelt farewell to David “El Guaje” Villa.
I begin by acknowledging the fact that the announcement was expected. The club had clearly rejected his request for a final year with the club just before the regular season ended. Personally, I found that shockingly disrespectful, specially since he practically built the club from scratch. Don’t get me wrong, I considered age, injuries and goal productivity as factors for the club’s decision. Trust me, when I say that even in his last season, he averaged 20 goals, so you can’t say that he stopped contributing to the team. What about age? At 37 he was still causing trouble to defensive lines around the league. Many suggested that everything broke down because of his “DP” status, which means that you get a considerable amount of pay difference. Whatever the case might have been I would’ve worked out a deal that allowed him to play one more season with the club. For a player that helped from the start, it was the least they could do for him, but we might never know what really happened.
Looking back at how things have changed for me since that Hudson River Derby a few years ago, it has been nothing but unexpected and wonderful. If I didn’t miss that meet and greet event who knows what could’ve happened. True I would’ve gotten a picture with Villa and Pirlo (would’ve been more than happy with that iconic moment) but missing out on that event brought me to where I am today. In that derby, Villa would score a hat trick that gave NYCFC the victory, sure it was a great experience but the fighting spirit that he displayed was inspirational. After the game, I felt that connection with the team and when that happens, I commit myself to the best of my possibilities. So much so that a couple of months later NYCFC Launched a 24-hour Game event and well, I was crazy enough to take part in that. Mainly because of the brutal weather conditions and the small window for physical preparation, regardless it will not only allow me to fulfill a dream, but also allow me to see the loyal fan base that the team had gathered up to that point. With Villa departing who knows if the event returns, regardless, I’m proud to have been a part of Team Villa.
The biggest change however, happened because of this blog. I had written posts about the 24-Hour Game and my experience at the Derby. I was starting to get involved with Twitter and the NYCFC fanbase, as always, I would pitch in links to my blog whenever the chance presented itself. The links would give me the opportunity to form part of a recognized independent fan group. The NYCFC Nation saw my content, and as of now I contribute to their website with posts about the club en espanol. I guess things happen for a reason, I always hoped to work doing what I enjoy, which is watching and writing about soccer. Honestly, even without a direct connection, I believe that Villa has managed to have a significant influence on me. However, I thank NYCFC Nation for giving me the opportunity to grow both as a person and a writer, hell I even do podcasts so that’s a change.
What’s next for NYCFC after losing such an important icon? It’s all uncertain now, but we can only hope that the team keeps growing and that the fan base remains strong. Although the administration is highly at fault for not securing a proper Villa replacement. This can mean trouble because David Villa might have been the only reason for fans to show up at home games. Its no secret that attendance has been dropping every season, so unless they sign a big name, we could see dark times ahead for the club. For now, all we must do is show David Villa the respect and appreciation he deserves. Although, I would like to point out that the club should consider the following options in terms of tributes. First, that regardless of how common the number 7 is in soccer, it should be retired in honor of what David Villa contributed to the club. Second, if the plan is to do things correctly, they should name the future stadium after him. The final option would be to build the man a statue, a bit too much you might say, but he has earned that right regardless. If Thierry Henry and Sir Alex Ferguson have one, then David Villa deserves one as well. Although, putting everything back in perspective, all we really want is for Villa to have the recognition he deserves.
Yes, it’s over and perhaps not even this blog post summarizes everything I’m feeling now that Villa departs NYCFC. There will be no other like him EVER AGAIN and we must never forget it. One final remark to close this post; If the club knew in advance that he wasn’t returning, why not schedule a public event so fans could pay their proper farewells? Why make it a private event for members when he impacted many beyond labels? These are things I will never understand.