David Villa: “I try to score Sunday for the person … because I am sure in the sky he will support me the same way he supported me in the life.” (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
By Michael Lewis
NEW YORK — If David Villa scores against the LA Galaxy in New York City FC’s home opener at Yankee Stadium, Sunday don’t be surprised if the veteran striker make an emotional gesture to the sky.
He says he will try to find the back of the net for one of his mentors, Sporting Gijon, Barcelona and Spain striker Enrique Castro “Quini.”
Quini, who was a helped guide Villa when the Spanish international joined Sporting Gijon as a teenager, died of a heart attack at 68 Feb. 27.
“He was a really, really important person for me not only for my soccer, because I was 18-years-old,” Villa said during NYCFC media day at Rockefeller Plaza. “I had a mentor like him. It’s like a family. For everyone in the Sporting Gijon family, he’s alive always.
“It was a difficult week for me. I was afar because I could not go and say goodbye to him. I always try to say thank you, thank you because I am sure without his help when I start, I cannot be the player that I be right now. He helped me a lot, he helped my father a lot. Thank you so much. I try to score Sunday for the person … because I am sure in the sky he will support me the same way he supported me in the life.”
Villa played on the Sporting Gijon youth team from 1999-2000 before earning a spot on the B side from 2000-1 season and a promotion to the full squad from 2001-03.
“I will be eternally grateful, friend,” Villa said in a recent Instagram post. “I remember that you asked me one day [to be] a better striker than you and I apologize for not succeeding, but that was an impossible mission for any striker who wanted to try.”
Quini scored 231 goals in 443 appearances during two tenures for Sporting Gijon (1968-80 and 1984-87) and added 54 goals in 100 appearances for Barcelona from 1980-84.
He earned the Pichichi trophy for being the top scorer in La Liga five times and remains eighth on the all-time list in Spain’s top flight with 219 goals in 448 matches (Sporting Gijon played in the Segunda Division for a few years during Quini’s career).