AAP Soccer

Spain soccer great David Villa to retire

By AAP Newswire

Spain's all-time top scorer David Villa announced on Wednesday he is retiring from football at the end of the Japanese top flight season.

Villa, who has been playing in Japan with Vissel Kobe since the beginning of this year, made the announcement with a statement on his official Twitter account as well as calling a news conference.

"After 19 years as a professional, I have decided to retire from playing football at the end of this season. Thank you to all the teams, coaches and teammates that have allowed me to enjoy this dream career," he wrote.

"It is my objective to put the cherry on top by winning the Emperor's Cup with Vissel Kobe. From then on, I will continue to enjoy football through all the projects that we're currently developing with DV7 group. Thank you for all the love."

Villa, 37, began his career with Sporting Gijon, later moving to Real Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid before leaving Spain in 2014 for MLS-side New York City. He also had a brief loan spell at Melbourne City.

He won two La Liga titles with Barca and one with Atletico among other trophies, also lifting the 2011 Champions League title with the Catalans, scoring in the 3-1 win over Manchester United.

Villa also won the 2008 European Championships with Spain and the 2010 World Cup. He retired from international football in 2014 and remains his country's record scorer with 59 goals in 97 games.