- Santi Cazorla was a part of Spain’s golden technology
- The ex-Arsenal and Villarreal midfielder joined Al-Sadd earlier this 12 months
- He talks about Qatar’s World Cup preparations and being coached by Xavi
Santi Cazorla wrote his title giant in Spain’s soccer historical past. He was a member of a golden technology 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 severe 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 Vincente Del Bosque, and his opinion of Xavi, the Qatari league and Al Sadd.
FIFA.com: Can you inform us about your resolution 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 reality, I spoke with Xavi a number of occasions about Qatar and Al Sadd, and he inspired me do what he did by becoming a member of the membership. He confused how robust the competitors is. Al-Sadd play excellent soccer and at all times goal native and continental titles. I’ve come right here to do my finest and assist the membership win titles. I’m glad in Qatar and suppose it is the finest place to finish my profession.
You began nicely with a league title this 12 months and scored your first official objectives in certainly one of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ stadiums. How did that really feel?
It felt nice to attain in certainly one of the Qatar 2022 stadiums. I believe I’ll do not forget that endlessly. We gained that match comfortably, and I received two objectives and made a very good impression by giving my all for the crew. Thanks to my crew-mates, I used to be in a position to adapt nicely from the starting. It was a very good begin to win the Qatari Stars Cup.
But luck wasn’t on your facet in the 2020 AFC Champions League?
Our objective was to achieve the ultimate, notably as the video games had been being hosted in Doha. However, the incontrovertible fact that we performed successive video games in such a brief interval made it troublesome for all of us. I believe we did nicely in the group stage, and the Persepolis recreation was very shut. We created many possibilities 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 annoyed by the consequence, however it’s forcing us to enhance. We’ve made the Emir Cup ultimate, 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 at present taking part in beneath your pal and former crew-mate Xavi. What are you able to inform us about him as a participant and a coach?
Xavi is an incredible participant and the complete world noticed what he did with Barcelona and the nationwide crew. He’s certainly one of the finest midfielders in historical past, and he proved this with his nice performances and the titles he gained. It’s nice to play beneath his administration at Al Sadd. He’s doing an incredible job with the membership and has massive ambitions, and I believe 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 Guardiola did earlier than?
Without a doubt, Xavi is an incredible 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 believe he’ll be Barcelona coach sooner or later, however that’s his resolution 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 duplicate of him. He has a special teaching model and numerous tactical concepts, so I’m certain he’ll be an incredible 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 crew forward of EURO 2008?
I owe him loads. This late nice coach gave loads to Spanish soccer and supplied many gamers the alternative to shine and make all of it the approach to the high. I bear in mind getting this name-up earlier than EURO 2008. As a younger participant, it felt nice to get this enormous 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 loads from them, they usually supported me throughout our coaching camp and in making ready for matches. I do not forget that troublesome recreation 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 crew-mates helped me convert it.
How did it really feel to play in the ultimate and win the title?
A ultimate is by no means over till it’s over, particularly when it is in opposition to Germany. We needed to preserve our focus from starting to finish and tried to manage the recreation. We finally achieved that. We may’ve scored extra objectives however had been glad to win a significant title after a 44-12 months 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 robust contenders, this event was a lot simpler. We dominated all our matches, and in the ultimate in opposition to Italy we scored 4 objectives fairly simply. I believe we had been significantly better than all our opponents.
Do you suppose that win compensated on your lacking out on the 2010 World Cup?
The World Cup is the most prestigious event a participant can ever be a part of. Unfortunately, an damage meant I couldn’t be part of my crew-mates on their approach to successful that event. But I used to be positively glad with what they achieved there. A 12 months 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 facet if you want it. Despite that, I’d wish to thank coach Vicente del Bosque for giving me this chance. He’s an incredible coach who helped La Roja win all the pieces 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 certainly one of the finest finals in historical past. I’ve performed in a few of the World Cup stadiums, they usually’re actually spectacular with their designs and pitches. I believe all the visiting gamers and followers will expertise a implausible ambiance in two years’ time.
What’s your opinion on the new-look Spanish crew that’s being formed right now?
It’s nice that the crew is being constructed this manner. We now have so many promising younger gamers who’re doing very nicely given their precise experiences. I believe Luis Enrique is on the right track, and we should always give them the time wanted to develop and acquire the needed expertise in order that they will come to the World Cup able to compete once more for the title.