My Personal Arsenal legend – Santi Cazorla the ‘Little Magician’

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 !!!

OLUWAFEMI ABODERIN

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17 Comments

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  1. Great player ,we haven’t had anyone like him since he left and certainly no one on his lvl .
    If only him and Diaby could have stayed fit we might have seen something special in that midfield.

  2. He’s the most ambidextrous player and the best tempo dictator I’ve ever seen at Arsenal. I still remember Coquelin and he controlled the game at Etihad stadium to make us win with two goals

    If Arsenal kept him in the CAM position instead of signing Ozil, I’m sure we would’ve won at least one EPL trophy during his stay. He was highly productive before having been moved to deep-midfield area and I reckoned his playing style was more suited to Wenger’s tactics

    Hopefully he’ll try coaching as some of ex-Gunners did

    1. The reason he was moved into a deeper role, because he got exposed just like “Odegarrd “, which at the time I thought that’s a bit unfair like Odegarrd is criticised for now. I would have fabregas over santi as a tempo setting player imo.. but a good player and nice chap..

      1. I thought Cazorla’s role was changed because Ozil could only play as no 10. Fabregas was more like a box-to-box midfielder to me and his work rate was generally higher than Cazorla’s

  3. Top talent that plays with a smile on his face, how i miss this lad that never get the chance to show us a lot.

    But it was how Arsenal and Mr. Wenger delt with him during his battle with injuries and long lay off impresses me most, they could have easily get rid of him during his nonproductive period but the then gaffer stuck with him and showed him respect in which he will always remember.

    It is for these reasons I will always have great respect for the Frenchman, the one Arsene Wenger . Grande homem

  4. For me, he was as talented as anyone who I’ve seen play for us, but he didn’t have the impact of players like fabregas, RVP and the core of the invincibles team.
    My recollection is that he joined as a winger, where it was always clear that he had enormous talent, but not always the output you’d expect of a really top top player, like those aforementioned. He was then moved to centre mid to help control games, where he played absolutely brilliantly, but only for a very short period of time due in part to him starting to collect injuries. He also lacked a suitable CM partner at times because coquelin got chased out the team after a while, and we didn’t find a replacement who could do the “dirty work”, which just exposed cazorla’s lack of size and strength.
    I understand why Cazorla is so well remembered, but for me he was a bright spark that never quite got going for one reason or another – similar to Rosicky and eduardo, or maybe arshavin?

  5. Great player, love him and miss him but he’s not a legend, just like how Fabregas ain’t a Legend.
    You people throw those words around too much lately.
    Sorry, no player in the Emirates era has done anything to be called a legend.
    I ain’t finna be sentimental because I love these guy.
    I laugh the most when I see people call Ozil an Arsenal legend too.
    Funny term.

  6. I agree with Eddie, no legends after the invincible team. Some very very good players and some top moments like that free kick you mention, or the Mertersacker final. Not enough silverware and not enough title challenges for a legend to grow I’m afraid.

  7. For youngsters, I suppose Cazorla was special. But for those of us who remember Brady , then SANTI was , by comparison , way off the level we remember from Brady.

    Still a top player but when compared to Chippy, well I need say no more. Unless you never had the pleasure of watching him, ‘cos you are not old enough.

    I also think CAZORLA COULD NOT HOLD A CANDLE TO CESC FABRAGES, WHO WAS DIFFERENT CLASS!!

    1. Yes Jon. I agree with you as per Cazorla and Fabregas.

      Arsenal over the years have been blessed with creative players. And I believe that we will win the league this season. 14 games played. 12 wins. That is a massive improvement.

  8. I don’t know about Santi being an Arsenal legend but he can be a personal legend.

    Top top player. Very talented, amazing personality and attitude but very childish underrated compared to how other overhyped players are constantly praised.

  9. Oh god, if only Santi Cazorla, Abou Diaby and Thomas Rosicky were injury free. Together with Cesc Fabregas, Alexander Helen, Robin van Persie and Laurent Koscielny, we would have conquer Europe. Even that Barcelona team would have chuckled.

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