NEW YORK – David Villa has spent his entire career prior to this fall in Spain, living in Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid.
Now, the Spanish legend and New York City FC Designated Player calls New York City home and he loves every minute of it.
“It’s a big change for me, for my family also. It’s a change of culture, it’s a change of city,” Villa said during a NYCFC event on Friday. “This is one of the best cities in the world. For me and my family it’s a very good opportunity and we’re going to work together to make this a really great experience.”
Villa said his family, which remained in New York during his brief loan spell with Melbourne City FC this fall, is completely acclimated to their new home. He had a little help fromNew York Red Bulls players Thierry Henry and Armando, who both also played at Barcelona.
“We’ve spoken on a family-friendly basis,” Villa said of his interaction with the RBNY players. “We’ve gone out together, to enjoy the city together.”
Villa’s biggest reason to move to New York, though, was a sporting one. And on Friday he got a chance to mingle with new teammates Josh Saunders, Jeb Brovsky and Kwame Watson-Siriboe during an NYCFC event at a local sporting goods store in Times Square.
“From the moment I knew who these players were I’ve been following them now for months,” Villa said. “I’ve been watching them play for other teams. I think they’re some really great players and it’s going to be a positive experience working with them.”
Despite the language barrier, Villa and his new teammates enjoyed some laughs before meeting the club’s fans. At one point, Villa joked how much taller the other three are.
“I’m getting to know my teammates before we start to compete,” Villa said. “It’s really a nice, pleasurable period.”
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Villa has also accustomed himself to Major League Soccer. He attended a New York Red Bulls game at Red Bull Arena and has enjoyed watching the MLS Cup Playoffs.
“I think the competitive level is good, the way of playing is good,” Villa said. “I like the fields, the stadiums. Everything is getting better and better. … I’m going to enjoy watching the final match.”
In addition to a new culture and new city, Villa said he welcomes the challenge of starting from scratch with New York City FC.
That, too, is new for Villa.
“Obviously its quite a big change for me to be in a new club starting from zero,” Villa said. “It’s a huge responsibility for me. But I hope to measure up to it. I’m going to do my best, just as I’ve done in other places I’ve played before.”