David Silva has played his final game for Manchester City after a decorated decade at the Etihad Stadium.
He came on as a late substitute as City suffered a surprise 3-1 Champions League quarter-final defeat to Lyon in Lisbon on Saturday, ending a remarkable stay with the club.
Signed from Valencia in June 2010, the Spain playmaker was integral in transforming Roberto Mancini’s City from pretenders to contenders and then champions.
The 2011-12 Premier League title was the first of four Silva won in England’s top flight, along with five EFL Cups and two FA Cups – scoring in the 2018 and 2019 finals of those respective competitions.
But a handsome collection of medals and dizzying stats for assists only tell part of the story, with countless majestic performances leading Silva to be proclaimed as City’s finest ever player by some observers.
Despite forging a reputation on the back of consistent excellence, there are still a handful of magical Silva moments that stand out above all others.
SOLO BY THE SEASIDE
Arriving late on in pre-season after being part of Spain’s triumphant 2010 World Cup squad, Silva took a little while to get up to speed with the demands of a Premier League that seemed diametrically opposed to his lightness of touch. He only made the bench for City’s October trip to Blackpool and was introduced midway through a topsy-turvy second half.
Receiving a short free-kick from James Milner on the right corner of the penalty area, Silva checked inside Stephen Crainey and left a lunging David Vaughan on his backside before opening his body to curl in to the far corner. That first goal for City helped to seal a 3-2 win and he never looked back.
A wonderful solo effort
— Premier League (@premierleague) July 22, 2019
AGUERO LINK FLOURISHES
There has been no greater beneficiary of Silva’s decade in Manchester than Sergio Aguero, who joined a year later. The Argentina striker’s status as City’s all-time record goalscorer owes much to Silva’s relentless creativity in the pockets of space just behind him.
An irresistible early demonstration of this link-up came when Silva produced a dazzling piece of skill to lay on Aguero’s maiden City hat-trick against Wigan Athletic in September 2012. A pause, a drag-back and a nimble skip saw him negotiate three challenges and leave a trail of bodies in his wake. A perfectly weighted throughball left Aguero with the formality of completing his treble.
That 3-0 win over Wigan was one of seven wins from eight as City started the 2011-12 season undefeated. Their title bid truly caught fire that October, with a 6-1 thumping of rivals and reigning champions Manchester United at Old Trafford – and Silva was integral.
Having had a hand in each of Mario Balotelli’s two goals, Silva scampered beyond a beleaguered United defence to nutmeg David de Gea and make it 5-1. However, he saved the best until last – flicking up a header from Chris Smalling inside his own half and volleying a pass into the space vacated by the centre-back. He skimmed it perfectly into the path of Edin Dzeko, who completed the rout.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) October 23, 2018
TO HULL AND BACK
Silva’s enduring influence over City’s modern-day successes was generally a case of ensuring the whole production ran smoothly, while the likes of Aguero, Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure produced the showreel moments. But when Kompany was sent off after 10 minutes of an away game at Hull City in March 2014, a match that came on the back of cup defeats to Wigan and Barcelona and with the title on the line, City’s master creator stepped up with a colossal performance.
Knitting together a move in typical style in midfield, Silva darted on to a Toure pass to curl in a fabulous 25-yard strike. Dzeko sealed a 2-0 win late on. Of course, Silva got the assist.
THRIVING IN TERRIBLE CIRCUMSTANCES
In the hours before City’s game at Swansea City on December 13, 2017, Silva received a call from his girlfriend Yessica Suarez, who was losing blood 24 weeks into her pregnancy. Arrangements were made for Silva to leave on a private plane after a game where, remarkably in the circumstances, he scored twice in a man-of-the-match performance in 4-0 win.
That set the pattern for a turbulent few weeks. Silva was absent for the following 4-1 win over Tottenham, where Pep Guardiola told his team to win the game for their team-mate and his son Mateo, who was born extremely preterm.
He was back to inspire another thrashing of Bournemouth the following weekend, however. Despite flying repeatedly from Manchester to Valencia and back and barely training at all, he continued to play magnificently. When Silva scored in the 3-0 EFL Cup final win over Arsenal in February, he dedicated the strike to his child, who remained hospitalised for the first five months of his life.
#onthisday last year we were also celebrating a at Wembley!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) February 25, 2019
A GOAL FOR MATEO
Silva finished City’s 100-point season in 2017-18 with nine goals and 11 assists in 29 Premier League appearances. For the first home game of their successful title defence, he walked out before the match against Huddersfield Town with an eight-month old Mateo in his arms.
When Silva marked his 250th appearance in England’s top flight with a stunning free-kick in a 6-1 win, not every eye in the house was dry.
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