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Spain's David Villa anxious to make a mark for NYC FC

David Villa, left, plays soccer with kids from

David Villa, left, plays soccer with kids from the South Bronx United program in front of Yankee Stadium on Thursday, July 31, 2014. Villa, the Spanish all-time leading goal scorer, was the first player to sign with NYC FC, which will be playing in the stadium. Credit: AP / Seth Wenig

David Villa is a soccer pioneer in the truest sense.

Not only is he the first high-profile Spanish player to join an MLS club, Villa also made the audacious decision on June 2 to become the first player signed by a team that has yet to play a competitive game.

The 32-year-old Villa was confident he made the right choice to join New York City FC, an expansion team that begins playing at Yankee Stadium in March of 2015.

"The opportunity that attracted me to the project was being one of the first players, being part of a founding team from the beginning," Villa said through an interpreter Thursday. "I never really second-guessed it.

"It's a great opportunity, a great place. The project and vision presented to me had me off the bat. It's something exciting that I want to be a part of. And it's New York City."

MLS was always on his radar.

"Besides being a player, I am a fan," he said. "There are a lot of different leagues. I keep an eye on pretty much everything. I didn't talk to anybody. I made the decision on my own."

Signing a player of Villa's stature opened the door to bring in at least one other high-profile international -- English star midfielder Frank Lampard.

"He's a legend. He's one of the greatest," Villa said. "The opportunities will be great. I'm excited to see what we can do together."

After both players attended Liverpool's shootout win over Manchester City -- NYC FC's sister club -- at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night, Villa took part in a scrimmage and youth clinic at Macombs Dam Park yesterday, a long free kick across the street from the stadium.

"It's important to give back to the kids in the beginning to teach them the right way to play," Villa said.

Some players and coaches criticized the stadium's shoddy-looking temporary grass, which was placed over the dirt infield. "It's not really a concern," Villa said. "It's one of the greatest venues in the world. I'm sure the crew will be able to handle all of the problems."

Despite scoring 224 goals for the likes of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, and a record 59 for the Spanish national team that won the 2010 World Cup, Villa came off quite humble.

"I don't consider myself a star," said Villa, who will play for Melbourne City (Australia) until preseason training commences in January. "I consider myself part of a team. I'm ready for whatever comes my way."

Which was reflected when Villa was asked what sort of legacy he wanted to leave. Villa replied "a winning" one and "also one of hard work and dedication that people will remember the name, David Villa."

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