Santiago Cazorla, a versatile, two-footed attacking midfielder with excellent close control, began his football career at Real Oviedo. Financial difficulties at the club led to him signing for Villarreal in 2003, where he initially struggled to break into the first team. He was allowed to leave for Recreativo de Huelva during the 2006/07 season so that he could acquire more playing time and that his game could mature. Following a successful campaign in Huelva, he was brought back to the Yellow Submarine and would go on to become an integral part of the Villarreal team that finished runners-up in La Liga that year.

Cazorla’s first international call-up by then Spain coach Luis Aragones was as much a surprise to the player as it was to onlookers, especially as it was as part of the final UEFA Euro 2008 squad, an unusual achievement for an uncapped player. He made his debut for Spain in a preparatory friendly, prior to playing a role in all but one of Spain’s matches in Austria. Now the proud owner of a European Cup of Nations medal, he has since become a regular in the Spanish national side.

During the 2008/09 season, the genial Asturian suffered a serious injury to his fibula, from which he recovered in record time to finish the year with his highest number of league goals (8) to date. His speedy comeback had the added benefit of allowing him to compete in that summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup. It is this tenacity, drive and strength that have been key to ‘Santi’ Cazorla’s rise to prominence.