Spain's all-time top scorer hasn't let his standards slip since moving to play for New York City in Major League Soccer (MLS), in the U.S. The former striker for both Barcelona and more recently Atlético Madrid, netted 18 goals for his side — and with form like that, it’s easy to see why the club's captain expects NYC to “become the best team in the league.” The 34-year-old spoke to Metro about life in the U.S. and what it was like being part of one of the most successful Spain national teams in the country’s history.

You played for both Barcelona and Atlético Madrid in La Liga, which is considered the biggest league in the world, so what made you decide to make the switch to MLS in the United States?

At that moment, I wanted a different challenge. I wanted to leave the country to play in another league. Of the challenges that were presented, this was the one that felt the most important to me. I looked forward to that the most and is closer to who I am as a football player and as a person. To this day, I believe it was the right decision.

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Talk to me about your time with the Spain national team, particularly the dominant period between 2008 and 2012.

I feel privileged to be a part of a national team like that one and achieve that level of success. As time goes by, people will realize how difficult it was to do what we did.

Not only were you a part of La Roja, but you are the all-time leading goal scorer. How does that make you feel?

Very happy. A striker is there to score goals, and seeing myself at the top of the leaderboard of my country, with all the great forwards we’ve had, gives me a lot of pride.

Would you like to return to play in Spain before your career is over?

One never knows. Right now I’m here with New York City FC and I’m not looking beyond this at the moment. I only focus on the present and the very short-term future. Right now, I want to win with NYC FC.

How long do you expect to continue playing?

I hope I have many years left but I couldn’t say exactly how many. I simply have to work to be successful, and I’m hopeful that with hard work, I can extend my career.

– By Christian Fuentes