Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer David Villa has announced he will retire from playing at the end of the Japanese season when he will be aged 38.
Villa, who plays for J1 League side Vissel Kobe, will bow out having won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2008 with Spain, and the Champions League in 2011 with Barcelona.
The 37-year-old is Spain’s top scorer with 59 goals in 98 games, with four of those coming at Euro 2008 where he won the Golden Boot and was named in the team of the tournament.
The former Valencia man said in a statement on social media: “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 team-mates that have allowed me to enjoy this dream career.
“Thank you to my family, that has always been there to support me through good and hard times. It is my objective to put the cherry on top by winning the Emperor’s Cup with Vissel Kobe on January 1st.
“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.”
As well as Vissel Kobe, Barcelona and Valencia, Villa also represented Sporting Gijon, Real Zaragoza, Atletico Madrid, New York City and Melbourne City in his career.