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Oh, Santi Cazorla!

Cazorla scores a brace for Villareal versus Real Madrid

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Villarreal CF v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Santi Cazorla may no longer be wearing the red and white of Arsenal, but no player best sums up the saying once a Gooner, always a Gooner than the diminutive Spaniard.

That is why Arsenal supporters and football fans in general were cheering Cazorla’s accomplishments this week as Villareal hosted Real Madrid at El Madrigal.

It’s been well documented that Cazorla’s career came close to ending after a serious Achilles tendon injury suffered in October 2016. The midfielder was determined to continue his career and went through eleven operations to repair the damage.

During this time frame he contracted gangrene which led to fears that he might lose his leg due to the infection. Cazorla survived that scare, and then went through an unusual skin graft using skin from his own left forearm.

Unfortunately for Arsenal fans, Cazorla’s contract came to an end during his rehabilitation and he never played again for the North London club. Instead he returned to Spain and his original team Villareal. There were many doubters who suspected the 34-year-old midfielder would no longer be able to perform at the top level.

He’s only made 14 appearances since returning, but yesterday’s match proved that Cazorla still has some magic left. He opened the scoring with his first La Liga goal of the season in the 4th minute of play. His curled shot left goal former Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois with no chance.

Real Madrid fought back. Karim Benzema equalized just three minutes later, and the current European champions then took the lead through Raphael Varane in the 20th minute.

With time running out, Cazorla took center stage. Despite being just 5 foot 6, the Spaniard headed home the equalizer from a Pablo Fornal cross in the 82nd minute.

It was a great ending to a good week for Arsenal fans. First, it was confirmed that the Invincibles record would live on another season. Then one of the truly great guys in football was rewarded for his determination and tenacity. Here’s to you, Santi Cazorla.