a picture of the man from the Daily Mirror Football website
Santi Cazorla is a small, always smiling midfielder who has been through a career football journey that would make anyone sit up and take notice. From his beginnings at Real Oviedo as a youngster, through Villareal, Malaga, Arsenal and back to Villareal, all through undergoing ankle injuries that would be so devastating that Santi would almost lose his foot in the operation, the man has been an inspiration to many people.
This interview that the Guardian’s Sid Lowe did with Santi Cazorla explains it in such detail that I don’t think I can replicate.
Santi Cazorla was one of the most important signings that Arsene Wenger and Arsenal made in the last twenty years. He might also be my favourite Arsenal footballer of all time. This is not something I say lightly, in jest. He is one of the fewest footballers in the world that one can google about him smiling.
But I think a line can be drawn between arsenal pre-Cazorla and arsenal post-Cazorla. I am talking about the FA Cup game against Hull City here.
2014 FA CUP FINAL STARTING LINEUPS FOR BOTH SIDES, as per wikipedia
Arsenal, two goals down against Hull City in the final, was looking at another defeat in a cup final to a weaker team and extending their barren run of trophies. From 2005 to 2014, Arsenal had won nothing. The closest the club had come to winning a trophy in almost a decade as making it to the UEFA Champions League final in 2006, and the Carling Cup final against Birmingham City in 2011, and losing both matches.
The UEFA Champions League final can be forgiven. It is Barcelona. The Carling Cup is not one someone can forgive easily. Laurent Koscielny, Obafemi Martins. Let’s just say what has been the biggest day out for Birmingham fans didn’t go so well for Arsenal people. The start of the fa cup final started horribly for arsenal, and unbelievably well for Hull City.
16 minutes in, and Hull City was 2-0 up. Both goals, from James Chester and Curtis Davies, were from setpiece situations, one a corner, the second a freekick. Both very good goals and coach Steve Bruce was understandably overjoyed.
Arsenal was looking at the hole of a very dark barrel, one that said ten years trophyless and two losses in two cup finals that arsenal would have been expected to win. Arsene Wenger would not have survived that, the pressure was getting too immense.
Then Santi Cazorla gave Arsenal a lifeline.
In the 16th minute, Arsenal won a freekick on the left side of the goal, it was pretty far, and didn’t look like a goalscoring opportunity. But Santi Cazorla struck it so cleanly, with his right foot, that even as it crashed into the goal in the middle, no matter how well placed the hull city goalkeeper was, he couldn’t stop it.
Arsenal went into the break 2-1 down, and I could just feel, that that goal had given us a lifeline we were going to use. Finally.
Laurent Koscielny went on to equalize for arsenal, in a heroic goal where he could have been injured by hull city goalkeeper Allan McGregor before Aaron Ramsey scored one of the most important goals of his career to win the fa cup final 3-2 and end the trophy drought.
Santi Cazorla’s signing for Arsenal, was very important for the club, as it proved that a great player would want to come to the Emirates stadium. His first goal, against Hull City in an FA Cup final, might have changed the course of Arsenal, and its greatest manager for half a century.
It brought Arsenal a trophy.
The man reviving his career at Villarreal, having being given the option to move on from the club, is something we can all get behind. Any arsenal fan can only look on and wish him the best. I hope he has many great memories.
While Arsenal went ahead to become FA Cup and Community Shield winning experts in later years, for those 16 dark minutes against Hull City in Wembley they were looking at a tunnel saying ten years trophyless. Santi Cazorla gave them hope.