Santi Cazorla made his return to football after two years of injury in Villarreal‘s pre-season friendly against Hercules on Tuesday. 

The 33-year-old made his final appearance in October 2016 for Arsenal in the Champions League against Bulgarian side Ludogorets. Santi Cazorla then suffered a severe Achilles injury, which kept him out on the sidelines for more than 636 days

The then Arsenal midfielder lost 8 centimeters from the tendon on his right ankle after numerous operations on the troublesome injury. This led to him contracting gangrene in 2016. Doctors were urged to take a skin graft from his arm to fix the tendon. Consequently, Santi was told he’d be lucky to walk, let alone play again.

However, after months and months of training, physical rehabilitation and the sheer desire to play, Cazorla’s time on the sidelines ended on Tuesday against Hercules. Emotions were at a peak as the midfielder came on as a substitute after 21 months off the pitch. Santi Cazorla received a tremendous cheer and a round of applause from the fans.

Cazorla posted on Instagram after the match in order to thank the people that supported him.

Santi Cazorla said: “Very happy to go back to do what I like most. There is a lot of work ahead of me but it is the first step. Eternally grateful to the people. It has been worth it to get here THANK YOU.”

When his contract at the Emirates expired this summer, Cazorla’s his 6-year spell at Arsenal came to a conclusion. The Spanish midfielder was a fan favorite at Arsenal. He opted to join Villarreal this summer after his contract with The Gunners came to an end. This would be his third spell with the club that he initially joined as a teenager in 2003.

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