- Santi Cazorla was a part of Spain’s golden era
- The ex-Arsenal and Villarreal midfielder joined Al Sadd earlier this yr
- He talks about Qatar’s World Cup preparations and being coached by Xavi
Santi Cazorla wrote his title massive in Spain’s soccer historical past. He was a member of a golden era that dominated world soccer for years, incomes La Roja one FIFA World Cup™ and two UEFA European Championships.
Now 35, Cazorla made his senior Spain debut in 2008 and has proved over the years that he is a midfielder of distinctive qualities. His nickname, El Mago (the Magician), is testomony to his laser-like passes, luxurious dribbling expertise and two-footed capturing.
Despite some lengthy and critical accidents, Cazorla’s taking part in profession has nonetheless endured. After impressing at his former membership Villarreal, which he rejoined in 2018, he caught the consideration of Qatar’s Al Sadd and their coach Xavi, who satisfied him to maneuver to the nation that is set to host the FIFA World Cup in two years’ time.
Four months after touching down in Doha, FIFA.com spoke with the Spaniard about his transfer to Qatar, his time with La Roja, his expertise with Luis Aragones and Vicente del Bosque, and his opinion of Xavi, the Qatari league and Al Sadd.
FIFA.com: Can you inform us about your determination to maneuver to Qatar and play for Al Sadd?
Santi Cazorla: It’s an thrilling expertise to maneuver with your loved ones to a brand new nation. In truth, I spoke with Xavi a number of instances about Qatar and Al Sadd, and he inspired me do what he did by becoming a member of the membership. He confused how sturdy the competitors is. Al Sadd play excellent soccer and all the time goal native and continental titles. I’ve come right here to do my finest and assist the membership win titles. I’m comfortable in Qatar and assume it is the finest place to finish my profession.
You began nicely with a league title this yr and scored your first official targets in one in all the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ stadiums. How did that really feel?
It felt nice to attain in one in all the Qatar 2022 stadiums. I feel I’ll do not forget that without end. We gained that match comfortably, and I received two targets and made a very good impression by giving my all for the staff. Thanks to my team-mates, I used to be capable of adapt nicely from the starting. It was a very good begin to win the Qatari Stars Cup.
But luck wasn’t on your aspect in the 2020 AFC Champions League?
Our aim was to achieve the closing, significantly as the video games have been being hosted in Doha. However, the undeniable fact that we performed successive video games in such a brief interval made it tough for all of us. I feel we did nicely in the group stage, and the Persepolis sport was very shut. We created many probabilities however sadly didn’t capitalise on them and finally misplaced because of a lapse in focus on that nook kick.
Looking again, we’re nonetheless pissed off by the consequence, but it surely’s forcing us to enhance. We’ve made the Emir Cup closing, and we’re high of the Qatar Stars League. We want to keep up this momentum and check out once more for the AFC Champions League in 2021.
You’re presently taking part in underneath your buddy and former team-mate Xavi. What are you able to inform us about him as a participant and a coach?
Xavi is an awesome participant and the complete world noticed what he did with Barcelona and the nationwide staff. He’s one in all the finest midfielders in historical past, and he proved this with his nice performances and the titles he gained. It’s nice to play underneath his administration at Al Sadd. He’s doing an awesome job with the membership and has huge ambitions, and I feel everybody appreciates what he does.
How do you see his teaching future, on condition that many individuals would like to see him in cost at the Camp Nou, like Pep Guardiola did earlier than?
Without a doubt, Xavi is an awesome coach. I deal with him on a each day foundation, and the many management qualities he had as a participant he now has as a coach. He’s making nice strides as a coach and brings his personal philosophy. I feel he’ll be Barcelona coach sooner or later, however that’s his determination and he’ll know when it’s the right time to take that step.
Even although he’s a graduate of La Masia like [Pep] Guardiola, that doesn’t imply he’ll be a replica of him. He has a unique teaching model and loads of tactical concepts, so I’m certain he’ll be an awesome coach. We all want to attend and see.
Take us again to when Luis Aragones first referred to as you as much as the nationwide staff forward of EURO 2008?
I owe him lots. This late nice coach gave lots to Spanish soccer and offered many gamers the alternative to shine and make all of it the technique to the high. I keep in mind getting this call-up earlier than EURO 2008. As a younger participant, it felt nice to get this big alternative.
Spain gained the title and also you performed your half in it.
It was wonderful. I performed alongside Xavi, David Silva, Iniesta and others. I discovered lots from them, and so they supported me throughout our coaching camp and in making ready for matches. I do not forget that tough sport in the quarter-finals (in opposition to Italy). I got here on in the second half for Iniesta and the match went to penalties. I used to be nominated to take the second penalty. The strain was immense, however the motivation I received from my team-mates helped me convert it.
How did it really feel to play in the closing and win the title?
A closing is by no means over till it’s over, particularly when it is in opposition to Germany. We needed to keep our focus from starting to finish and tried to manage the sport. We finally achieved that. We might’ve scored extra targets however have been comfortable to win a serious title after a 44-year drought.
While it’s often more durable keep on the high, issues appeared simpler 4 years later at EURO 2012.
That’s true! Despite having a number of sturdy contenders, this match was a lot simpler. We dominated all our matches, and in the closing in opposition to Italy we scored 4 targets fairly simply. I feel we have been significantly better than all our opponents.
Do you assume that win compensated on your lacking out on the 2010 World Cup?
The World Cup is the most prestigious match a participant can ever be a part of. Unfortunately, an damage meant I couldn’t be a part of my team-mates on their technique to successful that match. But I used to be undoubtedly comfortable with what they achieved there. A yr earlier, we got here third at the 2009 Confederations Cup [in South Africa] and maybe that gave us the impetus to return and win the World Cup title.
Four years later, you bought an opportunity to play at Brazil 2014.
It wasn’t the look that I’d hoped for. It was a shock for everybody that we exited at the group stage. However, that’s soccer. Sometimes luck isn’t on your aspect whenever you want it. Despite that, I’d wish to thank coach Vicente del Bosque for giving me this chance. He’s an awesome coach who helped La Roja win all the things throughout this golden period. He’s a person who influenced so many gamers.
With two years left till Qatar 2022, how do you see the preparations in the host nation?
We’re all excited right here. I’ve been actually amazed by the preparations in Qatar. They appear to be able to host one in all the finest finals in historical past. I’ve performed in a few of the World Cup stadiums, and so they’re actually spectacular with their designs and pitches. I feel all the visiting gamers and followers will expertise a incredible environment in two years’ time.
What’s your opinion on the new-look Spanish staff that’s being formed right now?
It’s nice that the staff is being constructed this manner. We now have so many promising younger gamers who’re doing very nicely given their precise experiences. I feel Luis Enrique is on the right track, and we must always give them the time wanted to develop and achieve the mandatory expertise in order that they will come to the World Cup able to compete once more for the title.
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