When asked in an interview with Spanish broadcasting station RTVE earlier this week about the three keys to Spain‘s 2010 World Cup success, former Barcelona defender Carles Puyol was emphatic in his reply.
‘The goals of ‘Guaje [David Villa], the saves from Iker [Casillas] and the group, we were a family’, the former centre-back said.
Villa is also known as ‘El Guaje’ [the kid], a moniker similar to the one assigned to his former Spain team-mate Fernando Torres, El Nino.
David Villa was among the heroes of Spain’s World Cup win achieved 10 years ago on Saturday
The former Spain striker scored five goals on his way to helping his country lift the trophy
But Villa earned his in his early childhood after showing tireless work ethic from a very young age and commensurate skill, which yielded opportunities to play with older, bigger kids.
Yet this boy who started out as one of the younger players playing football on the streets and fields of Langreo in Asturias grew up to become one of the most important players of Spain’s golden age, as an ultra-reliable goalscoring machine who was worthy of taking Raul’s No 7 shirt in an equally relentless squad of winners.
Saturday marks 10 years since Andres Iniesta’s goal against Holland sent the country into unbridled bedlam as Spain secured a first ever World Cup title.
Villa himself had experienced disappointment as a fan of the national team at major tournaments over the years, but is delighted that Spain’s exploits in South Africa have served as a watershed moment for all of the younger versions of himself on the streets across the country a decade on.
‘Without doubt it is the biggest achievement of my career and judging by what people have always told me, it has been something very important for all the football fans in Spain,’ Villa tells Sportsmail.
Having experienced disappointment as a fan, Villa labelled the win ‘his biggest achievement’
‘The children of my generation grew up watching magnificent players but we never saw the national team win a big tournament.
‘To finally manage it with our own style changed the history of our football and was of great satisfaction.
‘We were one of the favourites once we had arrived in South Africa but perhaps the good thing is that everyone believed in our chances but also knew how difficult it was going to be to win a World Cup and therefore never expected it from us.
‘Obviously the closer we got to the final it became clearer to us that we would be able to achieve it. After winning against Germany in the semi-final, having controlled the game very well, we felt that we were on the verge of achieving it.’
Villa named his goal against Chile in the group stages as one of the most beautiful he scored
However, Villa encountered success the hard way. The former striker’s career appeared to be foredoomed to failure before it had even begun when he fractured his right femur at the age of four and was told there was a chance the injury could bedevil…