Former Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla has spoken out about his injury nightmare that put the talented midfielder out of action for almost two years.
The diminutive midfield maestro was a fan favourite during his time at the Gunners. The 33-year-old picked up an innocuous-looking Achilles injury back in October 2016 and never played for Arsenal again.
The former Spain international had ten operations and was working his way back to full fitness towards the end of last season, and hoped to feature for the Gunners before the campaign ended.
Unfortunately for Cazorla, he did not and his contract with the north London club was not extended.
🗣 “It was very special to feel like a footballer again, to feel the warmth and affection the people were giving me. That alone is worth the suffering of all this time. Villarreal have treated me very well from the first day and it’s as if I never left."— Football Tweet (@Football__Tweet) July 19, 2018
- Santi Cazorla. 💛 pic.twitter.com/oVcskyx3ft
Cazorla returned to Spain and has trained with Villarreal, and, after a total of 636 days out of action, returned to the pitch as a substitute in a friendly with Hercules earlier this month.
After the game the veteran midfielder spoke about how the Yellow Submarine were the only club that could open their doors for him to rebuild his career after injury and was humbled by reception he has received in Spain.
Speaking to Marca, Cazorla said: "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.
"I want to train with my colleagues again and to feel like a footballer. 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.
"They have treated me very well from my first day here, it is like I never left.
"I cannot really repay or reward what Villarreal have done for me. Not only when I was 18, but because they opened their doors after two years out and gave me their facilities without putting pressure on me. It is something that only this club can give me."