'It was a dream' – Cazorla revels in Spain captaincy on international return

The ex-Arsenal man marked his Roja return with a 4-1 win, and praised his team-mates for making it easy to slot back into the side

Spain midfielder Santi Cazorla hailed his team-mates and expressed his pride in pulling on the captain’s armband as SpainFaroe Islands 4-1 on Friday.

The 34-year-old won his first cap for three and a half years following a remarkable return to prominence at Villarreal.

Cazorla was told he might never be able to walk properly again after having reconstructive surgery and a skin graft to address the effects of two bouts of Achilles tendonitis towards the end of his five-year spell at Arsenal.

He missed the 2017-18 season before signing for Villarreal, where he completed a stunning return to fitness and made 35 appearances in La Liga in 2018-19.

So impressive were his performances that Luis Enrique handed Cazorla his first call-up since November 2015, and his return proved a successful one as La Roja claimed an ultimately routine win in Torshavn.

“It was easy to play with these players again,” Cazorla said.

“They make it so easy to play my game. I am so happy to be back with the national team.”

But Cazorla acknowledged the 102nd-ranked side gave Spain a fright when they halved a 2-0 lead the visitors took just 19 minutes to build. 

Early goals from Sergio Ramos and Jesus Navas handed Spain the initiative but Klaemint Olsen struck on the half-hour mark for Faroe Islands.

And although a bizarre own goal from Teitur Gestsson quickly restored Spain’s two-goal lead, the minnows started brightly in the second half and made the victors work for their triumph.

When Ramos came off it was Cazorla who was chosen to wear the armband, a gesture that touched the midfielder.

“Wearing the armband is another dream fulfilled for me,” Cazorla added.

“I’m enjoying this a lot but the important thing is for me to help the team.

“The important thing was to win.

“Games like this … these opponents can seem easy, but they are not.

“We had to stay focused after the scare of their goal and that got the win in the end.”

Next up for Cazorla and Spain is a home fixture against Sweden on Monday.

The clash pits the two unbeaten sides in Group F of Euro 2020 qualifying against each other and Sweden warmed up for the Madrid fixture with a 3-0 win over Malta.

“The game against Sweden will be complicated, because they are a good side,” said Cazorla.

“But with our home fans behind us, we are confident.”

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