Santi Cazorla’s comeback from a horror ankle injury that kept him out for 668 days is one of the best football stories in recent years..
The midfielder was told he should be satisfied just to walk again following a problem-filled recovery from a cracked bone in his ankle suffered while playing for Spain back in 2013.
Cazorla wasn’t to know it and Arsenal weren’t concerned. But he had contracted an infection that was eating away at his achilles tendon and ankle bone and he required surgery in 2016.
It was the beginning of a hellish journey that required multiple operations, including a skin graft in which doctors took skin from his tattooed arm and placed it over his achilles.
Cazorla made his return with Villarreal in 2018 and hasn’t looked back since, his performances so impressive that he was recalled to represent Spain just a year later.
The 37-year-old is now pulling the strings in Qatar for Al Sadd, where he’s added a string of honours to his collection including the Qatar Stars League title and Qatar Cup.
The grisly details of Cazorla’s injury make his comeback and subsequent success even more sweet.
Cazorla’s stunning touch in 2020
Miraculously, he has continued to produce the sort of magic Arsenal fans came accustomed to seeing at the Emirates Stadium.
Take his outrageous touch while playing for Villarreal in 2020.
Cazorla went viral with his FIFA Street-esque assist for Gerard Moreno in a 2-0 win against Valencia. The playmaker beat the offside trap and cushioned goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo’s long pass into Moreno’s path with a sublime touch.
The striker completed the sensational move with a first-time volley beyond Jesper Cillessen.
First you see that ludicrous touch, then you realise Santi’s just judged the offside trap to perfection 🤯 pic.twitter.com/A5XIaQ0tPI— James Benge (@jamesbenge) June 28, 2020
Pure wizardry from Cazorla.
Football fans adore Santi
The Spaniard was a real hit at Villarreal, scoring 22 goals in 86 appearances with the Yellow Submarine.
That followed a six-year spell at Arsenal in which his classy style made him a fan favourite.
Admired everywhere he’s been, Cazorla will be sorely missed when he eventually decides to hang up his boots.