Very few players could match the elegance that David Silva exuded on the pitch.
Despite the brilliance he showed week in and week out, he is undoubtedly one of the most underrated players of his time.
Now that he’s retired, how will he be remembered?
A terrible injury has now robbed Silva of whatever he had left in his legs. The Spaniard will fondly be remembered as one of Man City’s icons.
Silva was part of the Spanish golden era, which ruled the world at every level. Unfortunately for him, he would always be stuck behind the likes of Iniesta and Xavi. Even though he could go toe to toe with them, Silva would never be in the same conversations as those two.
On his day, Silva could glide across the pitch like a dancer. All of City’s attacks began and started with the diminutive Spaniard. It was as if he was a shapeshifter with how easily his game could translate to whatever midfield he played in.
With his retirement, the last embers of City and Spain’s golden eras are now closed. In the space left behind are the moments of brilliance he gave to fans.
Across his career, Silva reached the highest of highs, from the World Cup to the Prem. Despite his teammates often taking the spotlight, he was the cog that kept teams winning.
Beginning his career with Valencia, he would be part of the team’s most recent golden period, helping the club be competitive in La Liga. This Valencia side had another budding station Juan Mata, and the two of them oozed creativity.
On the international stage would be where the youngster would really begin to make a name for himself. Being a part of Spain’s Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 winning sides at such a young age drew the eyes of Europe to him. And by the end of his career with Spain, he would have been a part of what is considered the best men’s international team of all time.
Following his World Cup victory, Silva would make the surprising jump to City. At the time, City had yet to win anything of note and were just beginning to start this new era. His partnership with Yaya Touré blended the two players’ skillsets, pushing City to a title in 2011.
No matter the coach, Silva was able to keep his role, keeping the City midfield humming. Even as he aged, the Spaniard mentored the likes of de Bruyne and Gündogan as they took the reigns of the modern City sides.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Silva’s career was excelling despite never really getting his dues. No player could find it easy to perform in midfield that, included the likes of de Bruyne, Iniesta, and Xavi. Silva could always find ways to chip in, be it coming off the bench for Spain or giving up control of the midfield to budding stars in Manchester.
No matter where he went, the midfielder always found ways to contribute and win. From breaking onto the scene at the 2008 EUROs to winning City’s historic title in 2012, he is an icon.
At his peak, few players could rival the class that Silva brought weekly. His playstyle brought forth a new era of football that is still relevant today.
Truly a prototypical Spanish midfielder of this era, he embodied the same characteristics as fellow countrymen like Iniesta and Mata. A diminutive player, Silva had to depend on his quick moves to outwit opponents. Effortlessly gliding across the midfield to link up play between the midfield and whatever star-studded attack he was playing with.
Additionally, his passes could rival those of any Barça player of that era in their beauty and effectiveness. Whatever team he was on had to play through him or risk losing out on a masterclass. Even when his role was reduced, Silva could be counted on to deliver the correct pass at the right time.
One aspect of his game that doesn’t get talked about enough is how easily he could adapt to the midfield he played in. When he was with Touré, he could take control of the creative side of the midfield and spray passes around. With a more dominant player, such as de Bruyne, Silva could lay back and be an outlet for them to free up space.
It never mattered if Touré or Milner was his partner, that City midfield would run in a way to optimize every one. Truly, it should be of no surprise that almost every player had their best seasons next to him. Pep realized this as Silva was aging and opted to use him as a mentor to his younger teammates to prepare them for the future after him.
In time, perhaps, the Spaniard will be remembered for how he mesmerized fans and players. However, for now, Silva likely be remembered as one of the Prem’s best players of this era.
Another injury has ended a player’s career and taken any sort of decision out of their hands. Silva had one of the best careers any player could ask for, but so many people see him just as a footnote.
Perhaps, like so many other great players, time will be able to shine a light on the brilliance that was David Silva.
Photo: New York Times