Joined: 15 Aug 2006
Location: Washington DC
|Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:18 am Post subject: David Villa: Asturian soccer player from Tuilla/Tiulla
|Here is a write-up in the sports section of The New York times from June 21, 2009. It's based on an interview in South Africa with David Villa, the player from the mining districts of Central Asturias. It also mentions how he carries around an Asturian flag and has voiced his support for making Asturian one of Spain's official languages.
Here's a picture of David Villa with a sign that says he's in favor of language rights for Asturias, i.e., the recognition of Asturian and Galician as official languages in the Principality (courtesy of www.doilacara.net):
June 22, 2009
As David Villa Scores, Rich Clubs Ponder Their Checkbooks
By ROB HUGHES
David Villa, apparently a player of no fixed abode this summer, is a man of few words but many goals.
While he revels with the all-conquering Spanish team at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa, representatives of Europe’s richest clubs try to buy out his contract.
“I’m fine,” Villa said after scoring in Spain’s 2-0 victory over South Africa on Saturday. “Not in the best moment of my life because of everything happening with me professionally, but I’m here at the Confederations Cup, where I want to be.”
His father worked underground as a miner. The son moves above ground with the uncanny knack of being in the right spot at the exact moment when defenders lose concentration.
He pops up, he scores, he chips away at scoring records that have lasted a lifetime.
His goal shortly after half time Saturday was his 31st in 47 games for Spain. He is closing in on the record of 44 that took his countryman, Raúl González, 102 matches to accumulate.
The rate at which Villa is scoring makes him the most consistent striker Valencia has fielded since Edmundo Suárez more than 60 years ago. And the more confident he becomes, the less he feels the need to articulate his process.
Perhaps, like Gerd Müller, the German whose 68 goals in 62 national team matches remains incomparable, he may never find words to match his actions. “A voice inside me says, Gerd go this way, Gerd go that,” Germany’s “Bomber” of the 1960s and ’70s once replied to the constantly asked question. “So I go!”
In the 52nd minute, Villa missed a penalty, or rather allowed South Africa’s goalkeeper, Itumeleng Khune, to save it. Indeed, the agile goalkeeper sprang back to his feet to block the shot on the rebound from Carles Puyol.
What was going through Villa’s mind? Goal, got to score a goal, presumably.
Less than a minute later, Villa was positioned between South Africa’s central defenders. In less than a second he controlled a pass on his chest — some say with his arm. In the blink of an eye, he let the ball drop toward the turf and struck it with his left foot toward the bottom corner of the net.
No goalkeeper, not even Khune, could have expected that speed, or prevented the goal.
If ever it were ethical for brain specialists to fix electrodes inside Villa’s head, we might all comprehend the instinct, the impulse, the imagination of that half a minute in Bloemfontein.
Better still, just admire it. Better that science cannot answer all the aspects of human potential. “Something inside me says go this way. So I go!”
We also cannot know where David Villa, his wife and child, with another on the way, are going. Real Madrid? Barcelona? Manchester United? Chelsea?
All have been rumored. All are being told they can forget bidding less than €50 million, or $70 million, because Valencia is in a parlous financial state.
Fernando Torres, the big striker who pairs with Villa in Valencia’s attack (and who, according to one speculative report is also a target for Chelsea) told the media in Bloemfontein that he would be surprised if Villa went anywhere outside of Spain.
But Villa is already in a sense away from home. His roots are the small mining community of Tuilla, in Asturias in the north.
He married his childhood sweetheart, Patricia; he has the Spanish flag on one boot and the Asturian flag on the other.
He is a member of a group seeking to make Asturian an official language of Spain, and each July he holds a soccer camp for kids in his home region to learn the secrets of his trade.
Yet secrets they are: Secrets of what makes a 27-year-old of no great athletic height or build — at 5 feet 9 inches, or 1.75 meters — such an extraordinary striker.
Part of it is the work ethic he no doubt learned from his father. He encouraged David when he fractured his right femur at the age of 9, and was left with a limp, to work on strengthening his other leg.
So now, whether the ball arrives at his right or his left side, he can hit it with either foot. He can’t rise to the heights of Torres, but Villa is still decent at timing his jump when headed chances present themselves.
All this — his quick, alert, mobile search for space and his intuitive understanding with those around him — makes him a key player. He has replaced Raúl in the No. 7 shirt of Spain, and as Raúl ages, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaká sign in as new “galacticos” of Madrid, the word is that Villa will soon have Raúl’s place there.
No words pass his lips, in public anyway, to that effect.
“I don’t want to answer any questions about my future,” he said again over the weekend. “More because I don’t want to cause any problems.”
But problems there are at Valencia, financial ones. Villa is barely one year into a six year contract with the club, but Valencia is hemorrhaging money. It is caught out by the recession at a time when its new and expensive stadium is incomplete.
He might have to move to help pay for the stadium. It seems prescient now but months ago, long before Kaká was sold by AC Milan to Real Madrid, the Brazilian playmaker said that if there was one player in the world he would like as a teammate, it is Villa.
Villa would rather talk about the records Spain is setting. Saturday was the team’s 15th straight victory, a world record at national team level. Spain is undefeated in 35 games, a record set by Brazil from 1993 to 1996.
The Brazil of that time won what Spain now believes it can win: the World Cup.
The Spanish squad is strong enough to play this Confederations Cup, this rehearsal for the 2010 World Cup, without two of its stalwart midfield players: the creator Andrés Iniesta and the power runner Marcos Senna. It is led on the field by the pass master Xavi Hernández, and it has depth of cover everywhere.
But its cutting edge is, and has been since their partnership formed in Spain’s junior teams, Villa and Torres, the accumulators.
The victory Saturday established yet another record. It was 13 games since Spain changed its coach. Luis Aragonés, who built the team, its camaraderie, its style, and above all its belief, moved on after guiding it to win Euro 2008.
Vicente Del Bosque, grotesquely sacked by Real Madrid after winning the Champions League, shares the Aragonés philosophy: A team is the sum of its players.
Saturday was Del Bosque’s 13th straight victory. With players like his, it seems hard to fail.