Let’s go back in time, it’s the FA Cup Final 2014 in the first ten minutes Hull City have just scored twice from back to back corners. Wherever you were watching (I happened to be at the Emirates screening) it would have been shock and possibly silent. If you were at Wembley; maybe some half-hearted attempts to sing and chant would’ve been drowned out by Hull fans not believing their luck. At home there could’ve been worse scenes let your imagination go wild. Step in to the sixteenth minute; edge of the area by some miracle Arsenal have gotten themselves into a position around the thirty yards from the Hull goal. Step up Santi Cazorla. The little magician decides to go for it; it’s a risk but with the score line against them it’s worth taking. Everyone around the world watching holds their breath. In an instant the the ball is out of Santi’s foot there’s only one direction it’s going in and it is goal-bound. The relief, the sighs, the hugs of unknown people around you and the belief is back again. Typical Arsenal, we will do everything the hard way. This moment summed up with Cazorla’s fist pump and bringing the fans back together was all we needed. Forget that Ramsey scoring the winning goal, Cazorla was the real hero when we needed something that day.
Fast forward to a summary of Cazorla’s career at Arsenal which ended prematurely with an strange ankle injury and leaving the club at the end of his contract to go back to Villarreal. Since then nothing has held him back, getting recalled to the Spanish national side on several occasions and has even earned well deserve recognition for his performances on the field. He has also had recognition for his famed tattoo of his daughter’s name being grafted from his arm onto his lower leg.
But why am I bringing this all up? The answer has come from Santi himself told The Independent’s Tom Kershaw that he felt that he has unfinished business at the Emirates, even has been stated saying that he would be willing to play once more at the place that he used to call home. A few years ago, that could’ve been a reality when Villarreal and Arsenal could’ve faced each other in the Europa League but fate intervened.
“When you are at a big club like Arsenal, sometimes you don’t realise what it means to be there until you are gone. I never got to say a proper goodbye.
“It was the biggest team I played for in my career, and I miss everything about Arsenal.
“I don’t know what my legacy is there, you would have to ask the fans, but I want to say thank you to them all. I would like to play at the Emirates one last time before I retire.”
I don’t know if the club would risk giving Santi another chance even if it was just short term. But at the very least I could imagine him getting the recognition in the shape of a testimonial. Something that I felt we should’ve given to Tomas Rosicky when given the chance to. As of late there’s not many players that you could argue have been among the greats of yester-years gone by. Arguably Per Mertesacker retired without much of a goodbye but then again the best goodbye is to leave with a trophy lift and Diego Costa in your pocket for the last game you’d ever play sounds more enticing then playing one last time in the Emirates to say you’re goodbyes.
If you go through some of the players from the Emirates era, there were plenty of cases for some to cement themselves as legends or even have testimonials for the club. But now and then we see the Arsenal legends team host players of old like the Invisibles of Kanu, current assistant coach Freddie Ljungberg and the ever so popular Robert Pires. Maybe this is the way to say goodbye and hello to the old faces that we have grown to love and adore. Maybe testimonials are becoming a thing of the past and the legends games are how we reconnect to how we used to feel about these players plus you can say as fans you have seen players that your family used to go on about or even get to see that one player you wished you got to see but they were injured or weren’t able to get a ticket when they were able to play. But now we may never see these players play in the famous red again. And that is something that is upsetting, I would love to see some players that I never got to see live the passing range of Dennis Bergkamp whole Henry runs onto the end of it go one on one and classically finish in Henry style; Tony Adams showing leadership at the back and I would love to see even some of the players that aren’t really legends take part like Cygan who redeemed himself with his own performance a few years ago against Real Madrid.
At the end of the day no matter what happens with Santi, I still believe that he will be that little magician we loved to watch. Like Arsene said “you couldn’t take the ball off him in a telephone box” sums up how I think the entire fans felt about him and just maybe we let him go too soon. If he is given another chance to comeback or if it is his testimonial, I hope that myself and many others will flock into the Emirates to see us welcome back our number nineteen and hopefully we might see the return of others later on down the line. Who can’t resist the chant of “ooh Santi Cazorla” one last time?
A football lover from an early age, who began to support Arsenal in my early years. I never got to go to Highbury to see any games or even the tour, something I wished I was able to do. I play disability football as well and appreciate the support that the Arsenal Foundation has given the local community, which I have raised money for previously.