The Academy’s 2010 Male Athlete of the Year David Villa, a Spanish soccer player, accepts his award from Academy Board of Trustees member Tom Cafaro at Foxborough’s Gillette Stadium near Boston on June 3 before Spain’s match with the U.S. national team.
Despite all of his amazing plays and goals on the soccer field for Spain’s national team, David Villa remains shocked that he would be named the United States Sports Academy 2010 Male Athlete of the Year.
The Spanish striker whose five goals last year in the 2010 FIFA World Cup led his team to its first title in its history, humbly accepted the Academy Award during a presentation on June 3, 2011, while in Boston with his team to play a friendly match against the United States.
“It is always very important to me to receive recognition for my job,” Villa said in accepting the award in front of a roomful of Spanish media at Foxborough’s Gillette Stadium. “But this one is more important because it involves athletes from across the globe and it comes from a country where soccer is not the main sport.”
Villa also thanked his teammates. Villa’s 46 goals in international competition make him Spain’s all-time leading scorer and he has also scored more World Cup goals than any other player in Spain’s history.
“I would like also to share my award with my teammates,” Villa said. “Without them, any award could not have been possible.”
Spain also earned the Academy’s 2010 Men’s Team of the Year Award. Academy Board of Trustee Tom Cafaro awarded the team honor to Villa, Iker Casillas, Spain’s goalkeeper and team captain, Spain Coach Vincente del Bosque and Angel María Villar, Spanish Federation president and FIFA vice president.
“Many thanks for this recognition that this world famous university has granted us,” Villar said about the team award. “We’re delighted to receive this distinction. We have some great coaches and players who are exemplary, admirable and very special. They know how to win both on the field and off the field.”
Villa and the Spanish national team were selected through an online worldwide ballot that saw the public casting votes at a rate of nearly 12 per second, thanks to the Academy and its voting partners—NBC Sports and USA Today.
Spain is currently the reigning World and European champion. It emerged as a powerhouse in soccer in 2008 and solidified that position in 2010 as the FIFA World Cup Champion. In addition to winning the World Cup, Spain captured the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship. In July 2008, Spain rose to the top of the FIFA World Rankings for the first time in the team’s history, becoming the first nation to top the ranking without previously having won the World Cup.
Between November 2006 and June 2009, Spain went undefeated for a 35 consecutive matches, a record shared with Brazil. This feat included a record 15-game winning streak and earned the team third place in the FIFA Confederations Cup.
Spain was led during that span by Villa. He scored 44 goals in 70 international games, capped off by his five goals from 32 shots taken in the 2010 World Cup. He scored the winning goals in the first and second rounds of the playoffs and scored both goals in a critical 2-0 win over Honduras.
The Athlete of the Year ballot is the culmination of the yearlong Athlete of the Month program, which recognizes the accomplishments of men and women in sports around the globe. The Athlete of the Month is selected by an international voting committee comprised of media members and representatives of sports organizations and governing bodies.