YORKVILLE — Ryan’s Daughter pub owner Mick Mellamphy was under the impression he was being filmed for a documentary when camera crews descended on his East 85th Street tavern last Wednesday.
But he was in for a surprise. While serving a customer behind the bar, Mellamphy looked up to see Spanish soccer legend and New York City Football Club star player David Villa standing in front of him.
Mellamphy, a co-owner at the bar for 16 years and a self-described "massive soccer fan,” was in shock... and tried to communicate in Villa's native language.
"I started speaking Spanish and forgot that I don’t speak Spanish!” Mellamphy told DNAinfo New York on Thursday. "I saw Villa standing there and I looked around expecting that I was being 'Punked.'”
NYCFC, the area’s fledgling Major League Soccer team that played its inaugural season last year, decided to unveil its newest jersey last week by sending team captain Villa and fan favorite players Andrea Pirlo and Kwadwo Poku across the city to surprise fans.
Mellamphy, 39, was one of four people to receive the honor last Wednesday. The others were Omari McCleary of Brooklyn, Mauro Servisi and Michele Costa of Soho.
Each person was filmed at work for a supposed NYCFC "documentary about its fans," according to Mellamphy and NYCFC's website, which posted a video of the surprise unveilings.
Mellamphy — who has been to all but three of NYCFC’s games — had just been talking about his favorite NYCFC player, Poku, when Villa walked in, shook his hand and showed him the new jersey.
"It was a pleasure to be able to make sure our fans saw the jersey first," Villa said in a written statement from NYCFC. "They make the Club what it is, so it is important for us to make them part of everything we do.”
The new jersey uses the club's crest as the "epicenter" of a "radiating" graphic elements that "celebrate the energy of New York City," according to NYCFC.
Mellamphy said he didn’t know what to feel once he saw the jersey except excitement because Villa was wearing it.
"The jersey is unusual," Mellamphy admitted. "It's not often you see circular designs on soccer jerseys. It kind of reminded me of a weird jersey from the 1990s. It's growing on me a lot."
Mellamphy proudly runs an official NYCFC bar, which means that a number of fan groups congregate during games and NYCFC players occasionally drop by.
"I think they tapped into the pulse of the fans...and I think reaching out to the community is a great thing for them to do," Mellamphy said.