FOR ten years the man known affectionately as Merlin has been weaving his magic for Manchester City.
But tomorrow David Silva will do his disappearing act from the Premier League as the curtain starts to come down on his glittering Etihad career.
The Spaniard could yet add a Champions League winners medal to his incredible collection next month.
But whatever happens there, he goes with 11 major domestic gongs — including four titles — and leaves a lifetime of memories for his thousands of adoring fans.
Many — including his long-term team-mate Pablo Zabaleta — will tell you that 34-year-old Silva is City’s greatest-ever player.
Mario Balotelli called him “the slow Messi”, while his partner in crime, Sergio Aguero, described him as a “beacon that will light the club forever”.
Certainly Silva has been a shining star in an unforgettable era for the blue half of Manchester following his bargain £25million move from Valencia a decade ago.
It is hard to believe it now but back in the summer of 2010, he joined a club which had not won any major silverware for 34 YEARS.
For a man who already had a World Cup and a European Championship medal, it looked like a bold decision.
Yet before long, everything City promised him quickly began to fall into place — with Silva a pivotal part of that success. What has happened in the subsequent ten years has exceeded even his wildest dreams.
Silva said: “They had told us we had a project and it was to win trophies — and then in my first year we won the FA Cup.
“The rest is history. We have won a lot of titles since then.
“As they said to me at the time I joined, that was their project for us and the truth is we made it happen.
“When you are young, you don’t dream about all of this.
“You dream about becoming a professional footballer, you dream of playing in the top flight.
“But you never think about all the things you could possibly achieve.
“Even more so now, when I look back at everything I have achieved, I could never have imagined it — not even in my wildest dreams.”
At Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Pep Guardiola managed some of the greatest midfielders the game has ever seen.
So when he took over at the Etihad in 2016 and said he had always wanted to train Silva, you had a feeling it was going to be a match made in heaven.
Guardiola ensured his fellow Spaniard has enjoyed a glorious and fitting swansong to his time at City.
And Silva said: “I think Pep’s influence has been huge. What he has done during his time here has been incredible.
“We have won a lot of trophies and what’s more, we have dominated football here in England too.
“The way we play against the big teams and dominate matches is something that requires a lot of hard work.
“But that’s what he has done. It hasn’t just happened by chance.
“Thanks to him and the important role he has played, we have won these trophies.”
In addition to his influence on the pitch, Silva has been a model pro off it too, never giving the club a minute of trouble in a decade.
He rarely gives interviews, instead letting his dazzling feet do his talking.
If he had his time again, he would not change much — which tells you everything about what he has done in England.
Silva added: “If I could give a message to myself in 2010, I think I would tell him to do things in the same way that I have — to stay relaxed and to work hard.
“To try and adapt to the Premier League, to the club, the team-mates, while always trying to learn.
“I have always tried my absolute best, to always behave well and I have tried to work very hard too.”
His form since football’s restart last month has shown he still has plenty to offer.
And whoever gets Merlin next season will benefit hugely from his box of tricks.
Silva smiled as he said: “I’m older but now I have more experience.
“When you play and you are older, you feel better on the pitch.
“I think quicker. I can see things that before I didn’t see.
“When I was young I had more energy but now I can play better football.”
City have said emotional goodbyes to some of their modern day legends recently in Joe Hart, Zabaleta, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany.
That Silva has to bow out in an empty Etihad feels like a huge injustice after all he has done for the club.
But he will return next season so the supporters can pay a proper tribute to one of their all-time favourites.
He said: “I’m going to miss my team-mates a lot because we have been together for so many years.
“I just want to say thank you to all the supporters, to the club, to the workers here.
“They have made my life much easier and I am grateful for that. I will be blue forever.”
There have been so many special days and moments through the years but how would Silva himself like to be remembered?
He added: “As a good guy that enjoys football. I hope the people enjoyed my football as well for all of these years. Simple, really.”
Surely even fans of City’s bitter rivals would have to admit they have done that now and again.
English football has been lucky to have such a player all these years.