The Return of Santi Cazorla

Cazorla finally returns to the pitch after a long 636 days.

It was a sight to see on Tuesday, as Santi Cazorla, the Villarreal midfielder, returned to the pitch as a substitute in the remaining 15 minutes in a friendly against Hercules after being away for 636 days due to injury.

Santi 1
The 33-year-old came on as a second-half substitute for Villarreal in a preseason friendly against Hercules.

Cazorla is no stranger to injury setbacks. In 2013, Cazorla, who played for Arsenal at the time, suffered an injury to his right ankle in a Spain-Chile friendly in early September that caused a fissure in the bone. Six weeks later, he returned to the pitch and had a successful season with Arsenal, eventually heading to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with the Spanish squad.

Disaster struck again two years later in December of 2015, when Cazorla suffered a ruptured ligament in the left knee causing him to undergo surgery. Although he would recover from the surgery, the rehabilitation would cause problems with his previous ankle injury.

Santi slowly recovered from his knee injury after being out for five months and successfully returned to Arsenal for the following season. However, after a Champions League match up against Ludogorets, additional surgery was imperative on a tendon near the heel of his right foot.

Cazorla hasn’t played since this latest surgery, as he had issues with his recovery. His wound was repeatedly opening up and getting infected and even suffered gangrene in the process. It became so bad that amputation was in discussion for the football star. Ultimately, things started to turn for the better as doctors decided to remove skin from his right arm and graft it onto the affected area. You can actually see part of the tattoo on his achillies tendon below.

santi 2
The piece of skin removed and placed on his heel was tattooed with his daughters name.

It’s been a tireless journey for Cazorla, which he himself has said is far from over.

“People tell me that I have to assess where I am now and where I was 20 months ago and to think about what I have gone through,” he said, as per statements released by the club.

“I am only thinking about getting rid of the pain as soon as possible because I am not enjoying what I am doing. I want to train with my colleagues again and to feel like a footballer,” he continued.

“It is hard to express what it feels like to be out on the pitch after so much time. To feel like a footballer again, to feel the love of the people and the reception they gave me.”

Hats off to Cazorla for his determination and dedication in doing what he loves. Even as a Manchester City fan, it’s nice to see players bounce back from obstacles such as this.

I’m personally looking forward to see what Cazorla has in store for the future.

You can check out some highlights from his earlier years below. The video starts at :42 seconds in.

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Matt Casey

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