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David Villa sat down with El País ahead of Spain’s Wold Cup qualifier against Finland in Gijón, the city which saw the Asturian forward make his debut as professional footballer in the summer of 2001. The FC Barcelona player opened up about his long recovery from the tibia fracture he sustained in the Club World Cup semi-final against Al Saad, his return to form, and his relationship with fellow teammate Lionel Messi.
The long road to recovery
When asked about which aspect of the recovery process in more important, the physical or the mental, Villa said: “Physically you do everything you possibly can ... The doctors said that I couldn’t do anything for the first month [after the injury], but I wanted to work, there was nothing I could do.” He continued: “My friends would tell me, ‘Hey, now you have time to spend with your family,’ but I found myself spending a lot of time at the Ciutat Esportiva... I spent a lot of time talking to Xavi, who has experience with long-term injuries, and he told me: ‘David, you’ll get the feeling back, you’ll see.’”
The end of last season was difficult for Barça supporters, but it was especially hard on Villa, who could only watch as his team’s attempts to defend their Liga title and regain the Champions League fell just short of the mark. “The worst day was when we played against Chelsea,” said Villa. “That was the day that I missed playing football the most. Not because I thought I could have done any better [than the players who featured in the match] ... I went into the dressing room after the game ... I wanted to console my teammates, but it was uncomfortable because I wasn’t able to help them, I felt useless. I was so angry that I wasn’t able to help in anything. I felt terrible.”
However, things started to look up for the forward in the following months when Tito Vilanova and his men travelled to Romania for a pre-season match against Dinamo Bucaresti. Villa was brought on in the final 20 minutes of the match against the Romanian side, his first competitive appearance since he sustained his injury. “The day I played, in Romania, was the day that I knew the worst was behind me. I needed to test myself. Xavi had told me that ‘You’ll know when [you’re ready] when you try to return. You need to see for yourself when you're on the pitch,’” said the Asturian.
Since then, Villa has featured in 31 official matches for Barça and has netted 14 goals in all competitions. “Goals are what I need,” said Villa. “I have to score. If the match ends and if I’ve played well, given two assists, and the team wins but if I don’t score ... I don’t go home pleased with myself. I say to myself ‘what a shame that I missed that chance.’ I remember my missed chances more than the goals I score. I dream of scoring goals.” When asked to single out his favourite goal this season, the forward said, “the first one, because I was able to dedicate it to my family. And the one against Milan. My celebration really showed how happy I was”
Relationship with Messi
“My relationship with Messi is so bad that he’s literally given me half my goals,” said Villa with a healthy dose of sarcasm. “Messi is incredible. People talk about his goals, and I understand that, but the football he generates for his teammates is incredible. He has an extra gear that other players don’t have.”
Read El País' interview with David Villa in its entirety here.
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