DOHA (Qatar): Santi Cazorla wrote his name large in Spain’s football history. He was a member of a golden generation that dominated world football for years, earning 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 unique qualities. His nickname, El Mago (the Magician), is testament to his laser-like passes, sumptuous dribbling skills and two-footed shooting.
Despite some long and serious injuries, Cazorla’s playing career has still endured. After impressing at his former club Villarreal, which he rejoined in 2018, he caught the attention of Qatar’s Al Sadd and their coach Xavi, who convinced him to move to the country 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 move to Qatar, his time with La Roja, his experience with Luis Aragones and Vincente Del Bosque, and his opinion of Xavi, the Qatari league and Al Sadd.
FIFA.com: Can you tell us about your decision to move to Qatar and play for Al-Sadd?
Santi Cazorla: It’s an exciting experience to move with your family to a new country. In fact, I spoke with Xavi several times about Qatar and Al Sadd, and he encouraged me do what he did by joining the club. He stressed how strong the competition is. Al-Sadd play very good football and always target local and continental titles. I’ve come here to do my best and help the club win titles. I’m happy in Qatar and think it’s the best place to end my career.
You started well with a league title this year and scored your first official goals in one of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ stadiums. How did that feel?
It felt great to score in one of the Qatar 2022 stadiums. I think I’ll remember that forever. We won that match comfortably, and I got two goals and made a good impression by giving my all for the team. Thanks to my team-mates, I was able to adapt well from the beginning. It was a good start to win the Qatari Stars Cup.