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Santi Cazorla issues moving farewell to Arsenal fans as ‘horrific’ injury forces him to leave

PUBLISHED: 11:34 22 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:41 22 May 2018

Doctors had to perform a skin graft from Santi Cazorla's arm to his ankle. Credit Marca

Doctors had to perform a skin graft from Santi Cazorla's arm to his ankle. Credit Marca

Archant

Arsenal’s popular midfield maestro Santi Cazorla has left the club after coming to the end of his contract.

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla before the Community Shield at Wembley, London.PA Arsenal's Santi Cazorla before the Community Shield at Wembley, London.PA

The creative 33-year-old Spaniard had not played for the Gunners since appearing in the 6-0 victory over Ludogorets in the Champions League group stage at the Emirates on Wednesday, October 19.

The Llanera-born 5ft 6in Spain international was substituted for Mohamed Elneny in the 57th minute of the comfortable victory after picking up a minor achilles injury.

It had been a good evening up until then for the former Villarreal man after assisting colleague Mesut Ozil for one of his three goals with a cheeky chip over the Bulgarian backline to set up the German.

Little did anyone realise that was to be his final highlight in Arsenal colours after he lost eight centimetres of his achilles after infection had eaten away at the tendon.

Santi Cazorla of Arsenal and team-mate Nacho Monreal (R) take a photo together  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images) Santi Cazorla of Arsenal and team-mate Nacho Monreal (R) take a photo together (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Eight further operations could not save his top-level career.

At one stage Cazorla revealed doctors told him he if he could walk with his son in the garden he should be happy – let alone playing for his beloved Arsenal following his horrific experience after complications from an operation on his ankle intended to solve the problem.

Cazorla was then given antibiotics but there was a real danger he could have had his ankle or even his leg amputated if the infection got worse because of a blood infection.

His former boss Arsene Wenger had described the injury as the worst he had seen in his managerial career.

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla in action against Ludogorets last October (pic John Walton/Empics) Arsenal's Santi Cazorla in action against Ludogorets last October (pic John Walton/Empics)

Hopes had been raised briefly when he was spotted training before the Burnley match in what was Wenger’s final match in charge of Arsenal at the Emirates but the injury proved too severe for even a cameo appearance from Cazorla before the end of the 2017-18 season.

The technically-gifted midfielder made 180 appearances in six years, scoring 29 goals, helping the club to win two FA Cups and two Commumnity Shields.

His spectacular strike from a long range free-kick in the never-to-be-forgotten 2014 cup final against Hull City sparked the comeback from 2-0 down to lift the trophy on a memorable afternoon.

Cazorla posted a moving message to his two million fans on his personal Twitter account, saying: “Hola Arsenal fans.

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla (left) jogs round the pitch prior to the UEFA Europa League semi final, first leg match at the Emirates Stadium (pic Nick Potts/PA) Arsenal's Santi Cazorla (left) jogs round the pitch prior to the UEFA Europa League semi final, first leg match at the Emirates Stadium (pic Nick Potts/PA)

“I am sad to be leaving after so many great times. I have loved my time with the club and will always remember the special moments we had together.

“You have always given me special support and I will miss you. Thank you everyone.”

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis added: “We wish him well for the future and thank him for his important contribution to our club.”

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