Atlético Madrid midfielder’s comeback from brain cancer and mother’s paralysis battle
It took a miracle for the club legend to become the first player in Spanish soccer history to win three La Liga titles and join the FIFA Hall of Fame, but it took an unexpected roadblock.
Santi Cazorla’s life story is a rollercoaster ride, a tale of tragedy and triumph.
From his late teens, he battled a rare form of childhood cancer and became the toast of Madrid.
He was voted the Best Player of the Season in the 2012-13 season and won the King of Spain award for the best player in the world.
But in 2015, he became the first player in the club’s history to die by suicide. Now, he has won back-to-back La Liga titles, a double and an unprecedented third Champions League title.
He is also one of only three players in history to win three European cups, joining former Manchester United midfielder Denis Law and Barcelona star Lionel Messi, who won a record four European cups.
“He was always very serious about his football and he wanted to leave a legacy,” Cazorla’s former club, Arsenal, said. “I think that was the main reason he chose that path.
“He didn’t leave when he was in the best shape of his life, but he wanted a better life. He was always very serious about football and he took the decision well.”
Cazorla, now 34, will watch Saturday’s final with his family in a pre-match press conference in the locker room at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. At that point, he will become the first player in La Liga history to play two club games in the final for both the club he loved and the club he hated.
He will also meet his mother Yole Cazorla for the first time since she lost both of her legs after they were blown off her in a fireworks accident in 1998, a year before Cazorla’s death.
“I had to learn to walk again as a boy,” Cazorla said, before describing her as “the best fighter” in the family. “I didn’t want to hurt her, so I told her to fight. She was the best fighter in the family.”