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Nov 5, 2011

Humility marks Silva out from City egos

David Silva could have been run over by the stampede of mercenaries whose love for Manchester City was purchased at an over-inflated price, yet this diminutive master is a little different to many of his cash hungry team-mates.

An offer of unimaginable riches was all that was required for the likes of Robinho, Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor to offer their souls to City in recent years, with their ensuing desire to move on confirming that the contract they signed was little more than a lucrative marriage of convenience.

There are bound to be more who follow the less-than-savoury route of using Manchester's noisiest club as a temporary cash-point before moving on for an unfathomable reason, yet the Spaniard nicknamed Merlin the Magician by his team-mates is bucking that trend.

While it would be naive to suggest Silva would be playing in a sky blue shirt right now were the lavish salary he currently enjoys not thrust his way, it somehow feels as if his presence in Manchester is born out of sporting desires rather than personal greed.

"Money has never been my motivation and that was not the reason I joined City," this self-effacing 25-year-old begins. "I came here because this club wanted me more than any other and, in the end, they convinced me this was the right move. I liked the ideas the club had and, obviously, their financial strength means they are capable of carrying out the plan.

"However, it was never my ambition to be the biggest star at City, more to be part of a winning team, so even though I'm happy with the contribution I have made so far, the success we have enjoyed is not just down to me. Team unity is the secret to success, as one man can never make the total difference on his own.

"We have some big personalities at City and this is always going to be the situation when the club is investing such big finances in top players, but the manager keeps telling us that we need to come together to achieve our goals and this is what we did last season.

"Winning the FA Cup and qualifying for the Champions League was a big achievement for City as it was many years since they came close to anything to compare to this. Now we have to build on this step forward and challenge for the biggest prizes and the big dream is winning the Premier League. With the squad we have, it is a realistic target for us this season. Our 6-1 win at Manchester United showed we should believe in ourselves."

City's stunning start to the season has fuelled a belief that Silva and their clutch of other twinkle-toed entertainers could yet emerge as one of the prime threats to Champions League kings Barcelona this season, yet the conductor of Mancini's orchestra suggests such ambitions may be a little premature.

"You have to realise that Barcelona did not wake up one day and start to play as they do now - this was a long process," Silva says. "They have some great players and a great mentality to play winning football and this is the level everyone in Europe is aiming to get to.

"It may not be realistic to say City can win the Champions League in our first season as there is so much you need to do to succeed in this competition. Many clubs have been used to playing every few days in high level games for many years, but this is still new to us and it may take us some time to adjust."

Barcelona and Real Madrid must be regretting their reluctance to snap up Silva when he was put up for sale by Valencia in the summer of 2010, with his performances since he arrived in England propelling him to heights not even City dared to imagine when they signed him for around £25 million.

Silva's professionalism and work ethic has seen him promoted by the club as their standard bearer for protégés making their way through the ranks at Eastlands and they could not have picked a better role model. Not once has Silva followed the likes of Robinho, Tevez and Balotelli by sounding off in newspapers about the troubles of life in Manchester.

"It rains a lot in Manchester, but I have got use to that now and this is the same for so many things in England," he says. "I live away from the city in a quiet place and the people are so welcoming and allow me to have a life away from football.

"In Spain, you are talked about and followed everywhere you go, but this is not the case in England. I can stay in my quiet area, or go into Manchester and it is not such a big ordeal for me or my family. I like the English people as they have a nice sense of humour and they are respectful as well. "I have also enjoyed playing in a league that offers a very different challenge to what I was used to in Spain. Back home, it is Barcelona and Real Madrid at the top and the rest are just trying to catch up, but there is far more competition here.

"You have an away game at Stoke and this is a big test as they play a different type of football to other teams, and the other point is that every team is so well organised and hard to break down. Everything is done at a faster pace in England and this is why the Premier League is the toughest in the world, but also the most rewarding."

Silva would be the first name on the team-sheet of his international side had he been born in any country other than Spain, but the philosophical view of his status as a reserve for Vincente del Bosque's world and European champions further enhances his profile.

"I am always honoured to play for the national team and have to appreciate that the coach prefers other players to me from the start," Silva says, having turned in a sparkling two-goal display when he was handed a start for the final Euro 2012 qualifier against Scotland last month.

"There is a lot of competition to play in the Spain side and the results we are achieving confirms this is a special era for our country. I will never complain about not starting and will keep trying to impress the coach."

They are humble sentiments that serve to confirm Silva appreciates the team ethic more than some he has rubbed shoulders with at Manchester City, and it may be part of the reason he has emerged as their finest signing yet in a spending splurge that has reshaped the Premier League landscape.

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