With Spain already eliminated from the 2014 World Cup, the pair of forwards who so captured the imagination eight years ago in Germany delivered a final, vintage performance in a match that had few other storylines.
It was all about them—Villa, Torres and even the likes of fellow Spanish veterans Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso, each of whom had played a part in La Roja’s run of success between 2006 and 2012.
But it was especially about Villa, who had already announced his international retirement before landing in Brazil.
“I don’t want to say it,” he told Spanish television, per ESPN FC, “but yes, obviously at the World Cup I will be playing my last games with the selection...It’s time.”
But what a time he had.
After breaking into the national setup under Luis Aragones, Villa went on to become the most prolific goalscorer in his country’s history in just nine years. The 2006 World Cup, where he starred alongside Torres, was his coming-out party, and over the course of his international career, he developed a knack of scoring important goals at important times.
Eight of his goals came in World Cup qualifiers; 13 helped Spain into successive European Championships, in which he added another four goals. And of his nine goals between three World Cup tournaments, four were game-winners.
Unfortunately, Villa’s 59th and final goal for Spain—the winner against Australia in Curitiba—had no meaningful impact on the Group B table. But it was still a sight to behold.
After Iniesta had released Juanfran with an accurate pass to the right-hand side, the Atletico Madrid full-back swept the ball across the goalmouth to Villa, who finished with a delightful back-heel.
It was classic Spain—a final reminder of a truly golden generation that had mesmerised and dominated unlike few sides before them, and of which Villa was such a key member.
Upon his substitution in the 56th minute, the 32-year-old was inconsolable, hands covering his face unable to hide the tears.
On Monday, the bell tolled for David Villa’s international career, and much of the football world wept with him as it rang.