BRONX, N.Y. – As he spoke to and played with kids from South Bronx United on Thursday afternoon at Macombs Dam Park, David Villa just needed to look across the street at the iconic façade of Yankee Stadium to see his future home.
The Spanish legend spent Wednesday night inside the ballpark, taking in a sold-out international friendly between Manchester City and Liverpool. A year from now, Villa will be on the pitch with his New York City FC teammates competing in Major League Soccer in the club’s inaugural season.
“I’m very excited,” Villa told reporters through an interpreter. “A lot of legends have played here in the past. I’m looking forward to playing here.”
While Villa took in Wednesday night’s match as a spectator, he had the chance to play on the field when Spain met Ireland last summer. While it’s not a perfect setup – part of the infield dirt will be covered with sod – the 32-year old striker has no concerns about playing at the stadium.
“It’s one of the greatest venues in the world, one of the best in New York. I’m sure the crew there will be able to handle all the problems,” he said. “I’m excited. I played there in , it was great and I’m looking forward to playing there again.”
Villa is also excited to play with Frank Lampard, the legendary Chelsea and England midfielder who was introduced as the club’s second Designated Player signing a week ago. The two had a chance to speak inside the stadium Wednesday night.
“He’s a legend, one of the greatest,” Villa said of Lampard, Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer. “I’m excited to play with him, the opportunity is going to be great. I’m excited to see what we can do together.”
Villa, who has been capped 97 times for Spain, and Lampard are two of NYCFC’s first five signings with a third DP on deck. Now that Villa is in New York, will he become a lead recruiter and perhaps try to talk good friend and Chelsea forward Fernando Torres to join him?
“Funny enough, I actually spoke to him yesterday,” Villa said. “He’s a great friend. It was more of a friend matter than anything about soccer.”