Villa aiming to be king of the kids in Australia

Spain's all-time top goalscorer, David Villa, is unlikely to return to the A-League as a player but he is planning to bring an expanded web of coaching academies to Australia in the years ahead as he prepares for football's after-life.

David Villa A-League

New York City FC striker David Villa Source: Getty Images

Villa, captain of lavishly-resourced MLS new boys New York City FC, has linked up with former Adelaide United coach Josep Gombau to launch a network of the 'DV7' kids academies across the United States.

While the 34 year-old isn't planning on putting away his shooting boots any time soon as he prepares to enter his second season with the City Football Group franchise, he is wasting no time in indulging his passion for preaching a pathway ahead for youngsters.

The striker, whose four-game, two-goal loan stint with Melbourne City in 2014 was all too brief, told The World Game ahead of next month's start of the 21st MLS season: "I hope to continue playing for a long time but this project of teaching children is very dear to my heart and it's something I want to do when I finish playing.

"I feel it's good to start working in parallel now ... building this academies idea and having the best professionals with me, people like Josep Gombau.

"I have had a really positive experience playing in the A-League for Melbourne City and felt the passion for football that is growing in Australia.

"So, with the help of Josep, who was very successful in Australia and knows well the country, why not return there to start some academies?
"It's definitely something I am looking at for the coming years. I am passionate about sharing our vision about teaching kids with the method and the way of playing football that I have learned during all my life."

Weighing into the debate over where marquee players fit into the A-League model - a discussion highlighted by the fervent calls for Australia veteran Tim Cahill to be wooed back home for a final hurrah - Villa can see both sides of a vexed issue.

"I think bringing to the league these kinds of recognizable and talented players is very good to improve the level of the competition and to engage the fans with their teams and with football in general," he said.

"But at the same time, it is very important to continue building a solid base of young local players because they are the future of the league."

While not totally ruling out an A-League return, Villa has plenty of goals still to chase in the US.

He is part of a New York City side which also includes maestros Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo and is desperate to atone for an under-achieving debut season where they failed to make the play-offs, an outcome which cost inaugural coach Jason Kreis his job.

With French great and former Arsenal and Manchester City star Patrick Vieira now at the helm, Villa, who still managed 18 goals in 30 appearances last season, is looking for his team to race off the blocks in their opener against Toronto on 7 March (AEDT).

"I'm really happy now playing for New York City and my desire is to do great things with my team in USA, so I'm not considering going to play for other team or to play in another country in this moment,” he said of his immediate future.

"My targets, as ever, are focused in helping the team to reaching its goals. It is not only about me scoring a certain number of goals.

"I will try to perform in my best level to help the team reach the play-offs, which we didn't do last season and it is something this club is hungry to achieve.

"From there we'd love to go all the way and win MLS. This team has been built to win and this is our commitment with our fans."

Though China has stolen world football’s spotlight during a January transfer window spending splurge, Villa is more than happy to be an apostle for the game in the US.

"The level in MLS is very interesting. It is a competitive league, with good players and lot of passion in the fans," he explained. "The soccer is growing here and I'm enjoying being part of this moment.

"I'm sure it's going to be massive in the States. Here we have some of the best ingredients to make MLS one of the best leagues in the world.

"There are top facilities, passion for the sport, good support from media and sponsors and a lot of people enjoying playing soccer."

Villa believes having Gombau riding shotgun with him in the US as his chief instigator is going to be vital to the DV7 project's success.

"It is really important because he is a top coach who has come with us to start this great project," he said of his fellow Spaniard, whose sudden departure from the Reds last July shocked his flock of admirers.

"We trust in Josep's talent and also know that he has a solid experience working with children in the FC Barcelona academy, and also around the world. He is definitely key for us."

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Published 24 February 2016 at 3:20pm
By David Lewis