Record scorer Villa gets first Spain call-up since 2014

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August 26, 2017
AP Spain's David Villa scores from a penalty kick during a friendly match against Saudi Arabia at the Pasaron stadium in Pontevedra, north western Spain, on Friday, September 7, 2012. (AP Photo)

MADRID, (AP):

Veteran striker David Villa was called up by Spain yesterday for the crucial World Cup qualifier against Italy next month, returning to the national team for the first time since the 2014 World Cup.

The 35-year-old New York City FC player was included in a 26-man squad by coach Julen Lopetegui that will host Italy on September 2 and visit Liechtenstein on September 5 in another qualifier.

The high-profile match against Italy in Madrid will help decide the teams' fate for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Both teams are tied for the Group G lead with 16 points each from six matches. Only the group winner automatically qualifies, with the runner-up having to go through a play-off.

Villa is the top scorer in the MLS this season with 19 goals. He is Spain's all-time record scorer with 59 international goals.

"I'm moved," Villa said on his social media accounts. "Thanks to everyone who have faith in me and gave me this opportunity to wear this jersey again."

Villa has 97 international appearances with Spain and played in the last three World Cups.

He had announced he would retire from international competition after the World Cup in Brazil, but later left open the possibility of continuing to play for the national team.

Spain will host Italy at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

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