5 of Santi Cazorla’s Best Moments of 2019

Santi Cazorla is ranked 49th in 90min’s European Player of the Year series.

​Deprived of 668 days of his career with a freak injury, there were not just fears that Santi Cazorla wouldn’t return to football, but concerns he may never walk again.

Bacteria had eaten away at eight centimetres of his Achilles tendon, following numerous surgeries to repair an injury picked up during a Champions League fixture against Ludogorets Razgrad in October 2016.

An agonising two years followed, along with 11 further surgeries, as the diminutive Spanish midfielder looked like ending his career in the most unfortunate of circumstances.

He’s turned an almighty corner since then, and has re-imagined himself as one La Liga’s finest players since overcoming that adversity, earning himself a spot in 90min’s top 50 European Players of the Year series with a spectacular individual season.

Here are five of his best moments.

Netting a Brace Against Real Madrid – 3/1/19

Santi Cazorla

The first game of the year presented the Spanish magician with his first fine moment of 2019, as his brace against ​Real Madrid ensured the footballing world knew Cazorla was well and truly back to his best.

Finding himself in space in the box, the 35-year-old curled a sumptuous first time finish beyond Thibaut Courtois to hand his side an early lead as Santiago Solari’s men came to town. Los Blancos battled back to get their noses in front, but Cazorla would have the final say on matters with a late equaliser in the most unexpected manner.

Showing age is just a number, the midfielder charged his way into the penalty box, with a left wing cross finding him unmarked to head past the Belgian goalkeeper, earning his side a deserved point. Standing at just five foot and four inches, the former Arsenal man showed there is more to his game than just his feet as he started 2019 with a bang.

Helping His Side Reach the Europa League Quarter-Finals – 14/3/19

Santi Cazorla

Two tight affairs in the round of 32 saw Villarreal overcome Sporting CP 2-1 on aggregate to reach the quarter final stage, with Cazorla playing a pivotal role in ensuring El Submarino Amarillo would have a chance of reaching the last eight when they took on Zenit St Petersburg.

A superb away showing in Russia saw the club take a healthy 3-1 lead into the second leg at home, with Villarreal doing the business once more as they progressed through 5-2 on aggregate to mark a wonderful European season for Cazorla.

Pulling the strings in midfield, the Spaniard helped the club reach that stage for the first time since 2016 when Liverpool put them to the sword, however, Valencia proved too hot to handle in the quarter-finals this time around, with Cazorla’s side bowing out at that stage.

Return to Spain National Side After 1302 Days – 7/6/19

Cazorla’s renaissance is both an astounding one as it is a romantic one.

From fears he may never walk properly again to defying those claims to become a regular fixture in ​La Liga, his return to the sport reached its peak in June this year.

After a 1302 day absence, Cazorla was recalled to the Spain squad for their Euro 2020 qualifying clashes when he started in a 4-1 win over Faroe Islands. It was also a milestone occasion for Cazorla as he also captained the national team for the first time in his career following the substitution of regular captain Sergio Ramos.

The magic didn’t stop there either, as he went on to net his side’s second goal as La Roja thumped Malta 7-0 later in qualifying campaign to cap off a wonderful and memorable year in the midfield maestro’s career.

Screamer at Camp Nou – 24/09/19

Carlos Bacca,Gerard Moreno,Pau Torres,Santi Cazorla

A solid start to the current campaign saw free-scoring Villarreal net ten goals in their opening five league games, losing just once to Levante. This fine form also saw them secure a draw with Madrid, but a daunting trip to Camp Nou awaited on matchday six.

Turning back the years, Cazorla, one of the most naturally two-footed players in Europe, had fans questioning which was his favoured foot yet again with a thumping left-footed effort that bamboozled Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the Barça net.

Unfortunately, it proved to be a mere consolation as Antoine Griezmann and Arthur Melo’s early goals handed Ernesto Valverde’s side the three points. Nevertheless, it showed once more that Cazorla’s genius hadn’t dissipated following his lengthy layoff, and he could still cut it at one of world football’s most iconic stadiums.

Becoming Villarreal’s All-Time Leading Midfield Scorer – 27/09/19

Santi Cazorla

Juan Román Riquelme saw his Villarreal record of being the club’s all-time leading goalscoring midfielder usurped on 27 September, as Cazorla wrote his name in the club’s history books during their 5-1 thrashing of Real Betis.

Scoring his side’s second on the night, Cazorla took his tally to 46, overtaking the Argentinian’s record, who achieved that tally over a four-year spell at the club.

The Spaniard is currently embarking on his third stint at the club, but will no doubt see that number rise further having already bagged nine goals since returning to Estadio de la Cerámica in 2018.

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