Vissel Kobe

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David Villa announces retirement

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Legendary Spanish forward David Villa, 37, has announced his retirement.

Villa will end his playing career on Jan. 1, 2019 as his final game will be for current team Vissel Kobe, if they reach the Emperor’s Cup final in Japan.

The former Sporting Gijon, Real Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, New York City FC and Melbourne City star holds the record for being Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer (with 59 goals in 98 appearances) and won the 2010 World Cup and 2008 European Championships as a key part of their golden generation.

He also won two La Liga titles and the UEFA Champions League with Barcelona and another La Liga with Atletico Madrid as he scored 376 goals in 752 appearances and also won Copa del Rey trophies with Barca, Atletico, Zaragoza and Valencia.

“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 dreamed career,” Villa said. “Thank you to my family, that has always been there to support me. 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.”

Villa announced on Tuesday that he is part of the ownership group which will bring a USL Championship side to Queens, New York City. The plan is for Queensboro FC to start play in 2021 in the second-tier of North American soccer and Villa is expected to be a key part of the organization as he heads back to NYC.

During his four seasons in Major League Soccer he was the shinning light for New York City FC and was a model professional as well as being a great goalscorer in the Bronx.

His legendary status will live on, with his goals and performances so key to some of the biggest moments in Spanish, and world, soccer history.

Andres Iniesta keeps scoring for new club Vissel Kobe

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Andres Iniesta’s departure from long-time club Barcelona is still taking some getting used to for those in Spain, however, the former Catalan midfielder seems to be adjusting just fine in his new life in Japan.

[ MORE: Newcastle clears DeAndre Yedlin after opening day PL injury ]

Iniesta made his debut for J-League side Vissel Kobe last week, which fittingly resulted with a victory and a goal of epic proportions from the Spain international.

His second time out on the pitch resulted in a similar outcome; with a goal that brought the Vissel Kobe supporters to their feet (watch below).

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WATCH: Iniesta’s sensational turn leads to Vissel Kobe goal

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And now we take a quick trip to Japan, where Andres Iniesta is developing his wine business and OH… MY… GOODNESS.

The Barcelona legend, 34, scored a wonderful goal off a silky turn for his new club Vissel Kobe on Saturday.

[ MORE: Yedlin injured for Newcastle ]

Iniesta starts the play at midfield and then runs 50 yards seemingly unnoticed to get on the end of a terrific ball.

He then turns it with barely a touch, spinning to work his way into a familiar scoring position.

Wow.

 

Iniesta makes 1st start as Kobe beats Kashiwa in J-League

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TOKYO (AP) Andres Iniesta made his first start as Vissel Kobe beat Kashiwa Reysol 1-0 in the J-League on Saturday.

Iniesta, who came off the bench in Kobe’s 3-0 loss to Shonan Bellmare a week ago, had a scoring opportunity in the 15th minute when his right-footed shot from the edge of the area went wide.

He created another chance seven minutes later but it was his teammate, Asahi Masuyama, who scored the winner in the 66th as Kobe moved into fourth place on 28 points.

In other matches, forward Shinzo Koroki scored twice as visiting Urawa Reds thrashed league leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4-1.

Hiroshima remains in first place with 41 points, seven ahead of FC Tokyo.

Yusuke Maruhashi scored twice, including an equalizer in the fifth minute of injury time, as Cerezo Osaka earned a 2-2 draw with Vegalta Sendai.

Elsewhere, Sagan Tosu and Jubilo Iwata finished 0-0, while Gamba Osaka and Kashima Antlers ended 1-1.

Nagoya Grampus vs. Consadole Sapporo, Yokohama F. Marinos vs. Shimizu S Pulse, and Shonan Bellmare vs. Kawasaki Frontale were postponed due to an approaching typhoon.

Iniesta joins Japanese club Vissel Kobe

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TOKYO (AP) Former Barcelona playmaker Andres Iniesta was introduced as the newest member of Japanese club Vissel Kobe on Thursday, a poorly kept secret that’s been rumored for weeks.

Iniesta appeared before a packed news conference at a central Tokyo hotel on Thursday along with Kobe’s billionaire owner, Hiroshi Mikitani.

[READ: Earnie Stewart being considered for U.S. Soccer post]

“I’m pleased to announce,” Mikitani said, “that Andres Iniesta will be signing up play with Vissel Kobe after his historic career at Barcelona.”

Iniesta signed his contract as Mikitani watched, and then spoke through an interpreter.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but Japanese media are reporting he will earn $30 million annually on a three-year deal.

“For me this is a very special day,” the Spaniard said. “This is an important challenge for me. My family is excited to come to Japan and we are very pleased. There were many offers. Other clubs showed interest. But I decided to sign with Vissel Kobe because the project presented to me was impressive.”

Mikitani is also the CEO of Barcelona sponsor Rakuten, a Japanese online retailer.

Iniesta held up the team’s red shirt with his famous No. 8 on the back, and his name written across the bottom.

Iniesta previously had said he would probably retire from international soccer after Spain plays at this year’s World Cup in Russia.

The 34-year-old Iniesta scored the winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup final. He also was a key part of Spain’s two European Championships in 2008 and 2012.

He announced last month he would leave Barcelona after 16 seasons. His last match for the Spanish club was on Sunday against Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.

Vissel Kobe is in sixth place after 15 games in the J-League. It signed Lukas Podolski last year, but the German striker is out until the end of June with an injured calf.