NYCFC Head Coach Patrick Vieira knows a thing or two about international football.
He's been just about everywhere and done just about everything one can do in the game, including winning a World Cup and a UEFA Euro title back-to-back with France.
Wildly enough, however, he's not the only member of New York City FC who has pulled off that feat.
David Villa, in his 97 appearances for Spain, followed up a 2008 Euro title with a World Cup win in 2010. Two major championships and 59 goals later, he thought his international days might be over. Fortunately, he thought wrong, and his transcendent performances with NYCFC have put him once again onto the radar of Spain's head coach Julen Lopetegui.
For Patrick Vieira, Villa's return to the international stage is the result of his commitment to maintaining the highest levels of both performance and leadership—something that's rubbing off.
"We have given him responsibility and he has taken it," said Vieira of the striker.
"This is what he wants. This is what he was looking for. He is a positive example for the young players around him. The way he conducts himself in training, his work ethic, the way he looks after himself."
However, Vieira made it clear that this call-up doesn't only speak to the level of Villa's performances, or even just the quality of NYCFC's environment. To be called in by an international side with the pedigree of Spain's, those performances have to mean something, and Vieira says they mean a lot for MLS—both now and for the future.
"I think it’s opened the door," explained the Gaffer. "I think David going back to the national team just shows that you can make a decision to come to MLS and still have a big ambition, still have a chance to play for your national team. I think it will open doors for young international players and experienced international players.
"The league is competitive. Coming here, you will still have a chance to keep your place on the national team. This is a massive step forward for MLS."
As someone who is the embodiment of a player who has 'been there before,' so to speak, Vieira knows what kind of confidence an international call-up can inspire in a player. Such an opportunity is not just recognition of good form; it can inspire even better form.
Vieira noted: "When you receive a phone call from the manager who wants you to come and help the national team to score goals, it just shows how good he is doing for us. Not just this year but last year too. We are really pleased and really happy for him."
If Villa can raise somehow raise his level another notch—he's already the MLS Golden Boot leader at 19 goals—there could be plenty of fireworks for NYCFC when the playoffs roll around.
Though, when the playoffs roll around, it's a whole different ball game. For City to be successful, it truly can't just be about Villa, no matter how many international goals he's scored.
Success in the post-season will come only through a strong team ethos, and as a Head Coach, that is something Patrick understands very well.
He expanded: "It’s always important to have a good collective. With a good collective, players with talent will always show how good they are.
"David’s position allows him to score the goals and do so with a good finish. But he knows that he needs other players around to create the spaces and to give him the ball."
Just like their international pedigree, the Gaffer and El Capitan share their team-first mentality.
Vieira noted that David is always adamant that it takes more than just himself, and more than just 11 players, to be truly successful.
"He’s a team player and has been fantastic for us," he said. "He is thinking about the team. How can we do well as a team? This is a really positive message from our captain."