Santiago Cazorla González (born December 13th, 1984) is a Spanish professional footballer who nowadays plays for Qatar League, Al Sadd. Cazorla operates primarily as an attacking midfielder. But he can also play as a winger, central midfielder or as a deep-positioning playmaker.
Cazorla story is a remarkable rare comeback for a footballer. From nearly being amputated, now the old guard has returned!
Santi Cazorla began his professional career at Villarreal in 2003, after impressing as a youngster with his hometown club, Real Oviedo. He continued his development at Villarreal before a short spell at partner club, Recreativo de Huelva.
After becoming the club’s standout player in the 2006–07 La Liga season, contributing to their top-ten finish and being awarded Spain’s Footballer of the Year, Cazorla comeback to his old club Villarreal for € 1.2 million the following season.
He then firmly established himself as a key contributor to the club, regularly being named in the La Liga Team of the Season.
In 2011, following five fruitful seasons on the Spanish coast, Santiago Cazorla moved to Málaga in a club-record €21 million deal, where he gained a reputation for his speed, shooting accuracy, capacity to change the rhythm of gameplay, and excellent close control.
2011-2012 Season: The Start of a Long And Agonizing Career in England
After the 2011–12 season comeback, coupled with Málaga’s perilous financial situation, he moved to Premier League side Arsenal for a fee of £ 10 million, where he became a core component to the team in his first year at the club, registering thirteen assists, after which he was voted Arsenal Player of the Season, as well as becoming ranked one of the best footballers in Europe by Bloomberg.
Cazorla was also integral in ending the club’s nine-year trophy drought, scoring a crucial free-kick en route to winning the FA Cup in 2014.
Injuries plagued his latter years in England, and his six-year association with Arsenal ended in 2018. We’ll focus on this part where he nearly got amputated, later.
Cazorla’s Bad Luck
Actually, Cazorla’s famous story when he played for the English club, Arsenal, was not very sad. At least, in his first three seasons, the midfielder helped the Gunners win two FA Cup trophies and a Community Shield trophy.
But in the following seasons, Santiago Cazorla was more ‘familiar’ with injuries than trophies. According to our data research, from the 2015/16 to 2016/17 season, he had to be out for 761 days and missed 131 games with Arsenal due to injury.
Bad Luck Turns into Close Friend
Indeed, bad luck for a footballer is when an injury turns into a ‘close friend’. There are three different injuries that ’embrace’ Cazorla like a friend, but the most serious is the injury he suffered in October 2016, when he defended the Gunners against Ludogorets in the Champions League.
“It’s not a serious injury,” said Wenger at that time…
But He Would Never Returned to the Field Again
We all know, Santiago Cazorla never returned to the grazing field with The Gunners afterwards. He disappeared like a mole who disappeared from the face of the earth.
To heal his Achilles injury, Cazorla must undergo at least 10 painful operations a year. In fact, he was sentenced by the doctors in England to no longer can walk.
One of the operations that he thought was the most risky was when doctors grafted skin from his left arm to his right ankle.
“I’m a jigsaw puzzle,” he said about his condition at the time to The Guardian.
Read more: The 2016/17 Season Was Difficult For Cazorla
Fighting For His Life
In fact, the biggest problem with Cazorla injuries is bacterial infection. The injury takes the form of an open wound, allowing bacteria or insects to enter it.
For Cazorla, skin grafts are not a solution. Okay, the wound is closed, but the bacteria have already eaten away at the tendon. In fact, he could have been amputated.
According to Cazorla, doctors in England only gave him antibiotics, but were unable to reveal what the bacteria were and which side.
“They (doctors in England) said, ‘We know’. They said it was under control. “We’re giving you antibiotics”. (Even though) they don’t know which bacteria feed on the tendons, “said Cazorla.
“They never take responsibility or apologize, they are unconscious. I’m sure they think they are doing the right thing, that it wasn’t because of invisible bacteria, that it was just bad luck. I don’t think they feel guilty,” he continued.
Read more: Santi Cazorla Undergoing Massive Surgeries
Never Give up, Never Surrender
The medical team began asking him to think about retiring early. Never mind being able to play ball again, being able to walk normally was a difficult thing at that time.
But Santiago Cazorla didn’t give up. July 2017, he started to recover and everything is looking good. A month later, the test came again when he had to undergo surgery again. Santi Cazorla continues to struggle until finally he can play again in July 2018 or more than 600 days since he last competed.
Arsene Wenger’s Support
Too bad, yeah. But fortunately, behind that suffering, there are people who always support him. One of them, Arsene Wenger.
“Arsene (Wenger) has always supported me. He renewed my contract before the first operation, which is a great gesture, “he said.
“He (Wenger) said, ‘Santi, I’ll give you an optional year. Be here, sign it, live your operation with a calm mind.’
“It helps me focus on having a fearless rehab. I am forever grateful for that,” he said.
Ahem. Where’s Wenger’s haters sound
Later, Santiago Cazorla who was not satisfied with treatment in England chose another location for treatment: Salamanca, Spain. Here, the injury problem began to improve.
Doctors there reconstructed the Cazorla tendon using a semitendinosus muscle cut from the hamstring and inserting a plate into his heel. In addition, doctors in Spain are judged to be more able to motivate patients.
“In London, they (doctors) quite often said that I wouldn’t be able to (play again). In Spain, they (doctors) said, ‘Santi, this is bad, it’s very messy, but we’re going to fight.’, “Said Cazorla.
Santiago Risen from His Dark Times
After being healed from his injuries, Santiago Cazorla then returned to Villarreal for a third spell. In his two seasons, he recorded his highest appearance, league goals and assist count since 2015. In 2020, he signed for Qatari club Al Sadd.
Mikel Arteta, Arsenal manager who is also a former teammate of Santi Cazorla, has an attractive offer ahead of the end of the 2019/2020 season. Arteta provides a place for Cazorla as his assistant if he wants to return to the Emirates.
Now, Cazorla has risen from his dark times. After almost two years absent from football, the man who was born in Lugo de Llanera, Spain, has finally returned to the green field.
So, what did this aging player say?
“I don’t know what I’ll do next. Maybe as a coach, maybe as a sporting director, but for sure I want to return to football, “said Santi Cazorla. As it turns out, Santi Cazorla didn’t choose Arsenal, at least for now.
Santi Carzola didn’t want to hang up his shoes and finally accepted an offer from Al Sadd, the Qatar League club managed by the former Barcelona midfielder and his former Spanish teammate, Xavi.
No Longer a Prisoner
This 34-year-old man is no longer a prisoner, but is back as a mainstay. In the 2018/19 season, Cazorla appeared in total 46 times for Villarreal in all competitions, recording seven goals and 11 assists.
On 2019/20 season, Cazorla has played in 13 La Liga matches, scoring five goals and assisting four. So far, he has recorded a total of 2.8 key passes per game (second best in La Liga); 1.2 accurate shots per match; up to 1.8 tackles per game.
Santiago Cazorla’s Playing Style
A persevering, adaptable, and exceptionally specialized two-footed player, Cazorla basically can work as an assaulting midfielder, yet he also as a central midfielder, as a winger on one or the other side of the pitch, or even as a deep-positioning playmaker.
As a player, Cazorla’s main characteristics in his prime, were his speed, inventiveness, shooting accuracy from outside the box. His ability to change the mood of interactivity in midfield, crossing capacity, and passing, permitted him to set the rhythm and direct play in midfield, or cut inside from the flank, connect up with partners, make runs into the penalty region, and either make possibilities or score goals.
A small player, he additionally had superb close control, a low focus of gravity, and snappy feet. Just as his spilling abilities, which permitted him to hold the ball in restricted spaces. Cazorla is additionally very accurate from set pieces.
Regardless of his capacity, be that as it may, he has regularly battled with injuries and wounds, throughout his long career.
Santiago Cazorla has three pet dogs, one of which he named Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the famous Swedish footballer.
He has a child name Enzo, and a little girl name India; their names were inked on his lower arms, which he would kiss everytime he scored goals. However, the tattoo on his left side arm was destroyed in 2017 when the skin was required for use for a skin graft to heal infected injuries on his right heel.
Cazorla’s adolescence soccer idol was Danish extraordinary footballer, Michael Laudrup.
Welcome back, Santi Cazorla!
Enjoy your football again, and don’t forget to show us your magic on the field.