Various British media outlets have spent the last week checking how Arsenal-s old boy Santi Cazorla has settled in back home and most importantly how his recovery is going. One of the nicest men in football, he holds no bitterness despite missing 636 days of football.
Forget the physical impact of overcoming 10 operations and an ankle skin graft, most individuals would have been broken mentally by the threat of having something they love taken away from them. Many Arsenal fans credit his injury as coinciding with our decline, the midfielder having the vision and football brain his peers lacked. He had to watch on the sidelines as the club lifted an FA Cup while also being robbed of playing at a Euros and a World Cup. All because of an ankle injury in October 2016 which was diagnosed as keeping him out for a few weeks.
Little did we know, we would never see him in the red and white again. Despite being sent to World renowned specialists there was fear his leg would have to be amputated due to a bacterial infection which ate away at his achilles and ankle. Once a doctor tells you that, football is put into perspective. No wonder you couldn’t take that smile off his face, after hearing this wouldn’t be life changing, kicking a ball again is a bonus.
Nonetheless after going into great detail, this could be the most serious injury any gunner has experienced.
He never got to say goodbye to the Emirates as his contract was allowed to run down. It was right for all parties. The best Emery would have been able to offer him was cup games every two weeks, with an outside chance of proving his fitness. Robbed of nearly two years of his career, the man wanted to try and get back to what he loves, playing weekly, helped by a less physical demanding League.
While Villarreal deserve credit for taking a gamble on him, he has lifted the lid of Arsenal’s gesture which encouraged him not to retire. While Arsene Wenger will never publicly admit it, Cazorla believes a contract extension in 2017 was designed purely to keep his spirits up, with officials deep down knowing he wouldn’t play during the one year he had signed for. Essentially Arsenal were paying someone a salary out of loyalty, not wanting to give up on a person at his lowest, helping him believe he could still be a professional.
While there’s countless examples of our old manager being too soft with his squad who in return would take advantage, this is one of those times when I’m proud the Frenchmen had the values he did. Business wise did the medical advice suggest he warranted a new deal ….no …..But it’s those small details which separate us from other teams.
At a time when Aaron Ramsey and the board haggle over 100-250 000 pound wages, to the point of Emery ending all negotiations, it’s nice to know there is still a human side in this greedy sport.
Incredibly, against the odds, Cazorla has played 3 consecutive games in La Liga. It’s still early but I hope he gets the final chapter he deserves. Maybe we will face him in the Europa League Final?
Thank You Santi