I have seen horrendous injuries before. Aaron Ramsey, Eduardo, and more, but the news last week about Santi Cazorla saddens me more.
Even though it was an innocuous challenge at the time, one which did not cause too much stress, the photos that came out last week were deeply saddening.
I think the primary reason why the news about his 8 operations, gangrene, and potential of never walking again, let alone play football was so distressing was because of the type of person Cazorla is.
He is the happiest man in the world. Always playing with a smile on his face. A cheeky little bugger who clearly enjoyed life. And then his career was nearly cut down, his life nearly changed forever.
And then we come to the amazing part.
At no point over the last year have we seen Cazorla not smile.
Despite it clearly being a hard time in his life, every picture of him recovering, or on social media, he and the instantly recognisable smile on his face.
He never seemed to let things get him down. Other players would have been complaining, informing others every second of their distress. Cazorla didn’t. He just got on with things. And did it with a smile.
Even when things got nasty with Arsenal fans calling for his contract to be terminated, he battled on, smiling.
Even last week, when the pictures came out, I saw he fan say “why is Cazorla still contracted at Arsenal. Wenger has turned on him to another Diaby. We should just get rid”.
This type of fan probably also moans that the club has lost its position as the classiest club in Britain.
Sometimes our fans really are classless. Having a go at a man who could have died. Complaining that the club are treating him and helping him walk again.
These fans who moan need to take a look at Cazorla. He had a life threatening injury and is still smiling. What has gone so badly wrong in their life that makes them so angry all the time.
I hope Cazorla does return in the new year. I hope he does play again. And I hope Arsenal continue to give him the treatment he needs to get back on his feet – even if his contract expires.
Santi, I hope that in the face of adversity, I can smile my through it just like you.
Great player. Always been a favourite of mine. Proper little genius.
A story came out this week that Arsenal had the opportunity to sign him way back in 2005. We didn’t. He ended up at Manchester City.
People have jumped on this as “another that got away”, yet all it does is prove how easy football is in hindsight.
In 2005, David Silva was just 19. Manchester City did not sign him until 2010. 5 years later when he was 23. It is not like we turned him down and he went straight to City.
At that point in 2005, he had just spent a year on loan at Eibar in the Spanish 2nd division. Arsenal did. It feel he was ready physically for the Premier League.
Valencia also clearly did not feel he was ready for their team either. In 2005/06 they loaned him out to Celta Vigo and it was not until 2006/07 that he started to play for the side whose youth ranks he came up in.
As I say, football is easy in hindsight. For every David Silva that makes it, there are 100s of youngsters who do not make it.
Role the clock back to 2005, Arsenal had Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg in the squad. A 19 year old David Silva would not get a look in.
“But we could have signed him to develop him” you cry. Well at the time we were developing two their Spanish youngsters.
The first was Jose Antonio Reyes, who at the time was considered by everyone as the future of Spanish football. He was just 21 and was already in double figures in caps for Spain. Back to that word hindsight, who would have thought Reyes career would fall off a cliff? He got 21 caps for Spain, the last in 2006 – the year Silva made his Spain debut.
We then come on to the second Spanish talent.
An 18 year old kid called Frances Fabregas Soler. A wonderkid, to use Football Managers terminology.
Cesc is 16 months younger than David Silva, and in the 2004/05 season, had just broken into the Arsenal first team. He was playing Premier League football for the champions whilst the older David Silva was in the 2nd division in Spain.
Cesc would very quickly establish himself to be one of the best midfielders in world football. David Silva was still trying to establish himself in the Valencia first team.
Top clubs scout every top young player. The David Silva story has only come to light due to Arsenal playing Manchester City at the weekend.
In 2005, Arsenal had better players in and around the first team who were better than David Silva at the same age. And one who was a lot better than him despite being 16 months younger.
You would have to be an idiot to try and claim that Arsenal should have discarded Cesc to bring in David Silva.