New York City striker David Villa is ready for a surprise return to the Spanish international football team after he was called up by Julen Lopetegui for the first time since the 2014 World Cup.
Villa, 35, had been Spain’s record scorer with 59 goals from 97 appearances while being in prolific form for New York City this season, scoring 19 times in 24 MLS games and leading the top scorer list.
It is hoped that Villa would fill the void in the forward line that has appeared in the Spanish squad after Diego Costa was excluded from the 26-man squad to face Italy and Liechtenstein in the World Cup qualifiers.
Costa remains in exile from Chelsea after falling out with the manager, Antonio Conte, and neither trained nor play any part for the team in pre-season.
“We believe that calling up Villa is necessary and appropriate,” Lopetegui said. “He’ll give us extra mobility up front and above all he’ll contribute his enthusiasm. We hope and believe he will help us.”
Villa, in turn, said that he was “nervous” after joining the Spain squad in training for the first time in three years.
“I’m nervous, or rather excited with this new call-up, especially after three years,” Villa is quoted after linking up with La Roja in his home country. “It’s a dream come true.”
“For me, the fact that the national coach came to New York to see me play already gives me pride. I had spoken to him but I was surprised by the call-up. To be here for me is something that fills me with pride.”
“For the time being, I will be here for two games and we will see what happens afterwards,” he added. “I’m ready to help the team, be one of them and I hope I get my working clothes on and help as I’ve always done.”