A very quick Saturday round up for you, and now I’ve had my breakfast, we’ll start with a story that I’m quite sure would’ve put me off eating. Even the title of the story makes me a little queasy. Santi Cazorla, double-footed midfield dynamo, and former Gunner that was instrumental in the team’s absence from the doldrums for possibly years before his achilles could take it no more, has been speaking about the injury that not only ended his Arsenal career, but his football career and maybe even his anything-other-than-pottering around the garden career.
It was during a friendly against Chile five years ago that he first sustained the beginning of the injury that effectively ended his Arsenal career, even if he didn’t come out of the team until half time against Ludogorets in 2016 (the one where we won 6-0). By half time in that game, Santi had got to the point where was in tears as the muscles cooled down and knew he had to stop:
Half-times killed me, because it got cold, I’d be crippled at the start of the second half and the pain got worse and worse. That night, I cried; it had become too much. I had to stop. Then the problems started.
Then the problems started?! He goes on to explain the infection he sustained that got under the skin and ate away at his bone until it was “like plasticine”, and how the doctors told him to concentrate on just walking, never mind playing football. I can only imagine what it must’ve been like for a personality like Santi to have to deal with the situation he found himself in. Perennially cheerful and always seeming most happy with the ball at his either of his equally talented feet, to basically become crippled and told he should concentrate on hobbling round the garden with his kids, never mind playing the game he loves – and was very good at – must’ve been enormously difficult. It’s a mark of the man that Sid Lowe says in his interview that Santi was mostly laughing about it all when recounting the story, but I genuinely can’t imagine how horrible that must’ve been. They were talking about amputation at one point. Santi says he’s not interested in pursuing the original doctors that didn’t spot the infection the first time round, and personally I can’t say I blame him. Generally speaking these are professional people doing their best, but sometimes things simply go wrong. I can completely understand the opposite point of view too – to sue the shit out of them – and it’s particularly galling that he says they didn’t even offer an apology (I only hope not doing so was under legal advice as it could’ve admitted liability).
It’s also a mark of the club, and of another man, Arsene Wenger, who offered to take him up on his one year extension while he was injured. Many will say that was a stupid thing to do – perhaps rightly – but it was the compassionate thing to do to let Santi concentrate on his recovery. Ultimately he never did play for us again, only being part of the squad players that warmed up on the pitch for the UEFA Cup final, so it was arguably money down the drain, but at least he got out for us in Arsenal colours once more. And frankly, I doubt Stan Kronke felt the hit too hard,
It’s worth remembering how important Santi was to us for a number of years, both as an attacking force, and latterly in the centre of midfield. He was, as someone else was once described, the oil in the team’s engine, and when he played well, I always thought the team played well. A natural footballer, genuinely two footed, and (nearly!) always playing with a smile on his face, he was a delight to have as part of the squad, and it’s a shame he never got the opportunity to say a real goodbye to the fans.
Anyway, you can read all the gory details in great depth in Sid Lowe’s excellent piece over on the Guardian.
In other news, former Gunner Gilberto has told the official site he’s very excited about playing against Real Madrid in the legends game this afternoon:
To have the opportunity to see ex-teammates is always fun and always a great feeling, because you start to have a nice conversation and go back in time a little and have some fun
I can’t think of too many of my former jobs where I’d go back to “have some fun”. Usually I’ve ended up leaving jobs because I’ve got to the point of being unable to suffer my erstwhile colleagues’ stupid faces each day, but I suppose it’s a bit different if you’re a professional footballer. He also mentions that he’s taking the time to get himself an education now, which is nice to hear:
or me now for example, this course programme is a big challenge. After such a long time I’ve gone back to school for education to challenge myself for things. I’ve never had this experience before, but it’s been good and it’s all about how much we enjoy these things
The intensity of a professional footballer’s career means that they must lose out on a lot of things that us mere mortals take for granted, so I suppose to some extent it swings both ways. They get paid millions of pounds to do something they love, and we rack up tens of thousands of pounds of debt doing courses where our employment opportunities at the end are at best next to nothing.
Right, that’s it, this blog is late enough, and the boy isn’t going to take himself on a train ride (today’s “activity”), so I shall leave it there. Andrew Allen will be back with you all next week, so I shall speak to you again on Saturday.
Have a good one!