My favourite Arsenal legend
Blood is life, blood is red, London is red. Amidst family, work and banalities that bug us, all of these take back seat whenever the Gunners are playing. Inadvertently, the dogma for a die hard Arsenal fan is to live and breathe Arsenal so it’s always COYG.
Playing the round leather ball game is an art mastered by a few great players had worn the Arsenal jerseys during the twilight Highbury and post Highbury era, from the angelic guile of the non flying Dutch (Bergkamp), to the blistering pace and skills of the French Legend (Henry), to the Trivelas of the little Mozart (Rozicky), to the sublime control of the visionary German (Ozil), to the one that sprays passes with the accuracy of the then medieval archers (Fabregas) et al.
I hold all of them in high esteem, however one player not far from the cult hero or legend status, that I am yet to come to terms with his departure for me is no other than the diminutive Spanish magician (Santi Cazorla), the last Samurai.
Bought for £16.5m from Malaga, right from his first game against Sunderland, Santi wasted no time in showing his peerless qualities, but announced himself to the Arsenal fan base and indeed the football world, with the man of the match performance against the then Brendan Rogers’ Liverpool side. He was a delight to watch, it was obvious we had a gem in our fold. Blessed with great balance, ability to operate within tight pockets of spaces, ability to receive pass on the fast turn, ability to control the rhythm of the game from deep, rare ability to take set piece with both feet, he could do all of these and more, lest I forget his smile, how he helped to end the trophy drought in 2014 by scoring a crucial moral boosting free kick, his struggle with English language upon his arrival from La Liga, everything about Santi was sheer class.
When fit, he could single handedly win a football match with his individual brilliance, the Spanish magician played for us for six years, unfortunately the last three years with us were marred by injury. He had his own fair share of football woes, picking up ankle and Achilles tendon problems that not only confined him to the treatment table, but also deny the English football world of watching one of the finest talents the game had ever produced.
Luckily he finally made a full recovery after returning to Villarreal and went on make another 70 appearances, scoring 15 goals, and right now is still knocking them at 37 years-old for Al Sadd…
All hail Santi !!!
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