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Football | Santi comes early for Cazorla

Santi Cazorla has been recalled to the Spain squad.

The Villareal playmaker has been named in the Spanish squad for June's Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Faroe Islands and Sweden.

Cazorla has won 77 caps for his country - scoring 14 goals - but has not appeared for Spain since a 2015 friendly against England, a game in which he scored.

The 34-year-old has had 11 operations in recent years, and missed 668 days during his injury nightmare.

There were even worries at one stage that his foot might have to be amputated, and Arsene Wenger labelled one of Cazorla's injuries as the worst he had ever seen.

However, the midfielder has battled back against all the odds.

A fan favourite during his spell at Arsenal, Cazorla managed just 23 appearances over his final two seasons in North London.

He re-joined Villareal on a free transfer last summer, and has enjoyed a superb season back in Spain.

Cazorla made 45 appearances for the La Liga club in all competitions, netting seven goals and registering 10 assists in the league.

He has been the shining light for the club in what has been a difficult season.

His vision, technical ability and intelligence is all still there to see, and he has made some huge contributions to the club this season.

Cazorla scored twice in a 2-2 draw with Real Madrid in January, and his experience was crucial in Villareal's Europa League run.

"You always dream that one day you might return to the national team but after two years of injuries, it was something that for me, what very difficult to imagine ever happening again," he told AS.

"I'm really happy about it, it's still sinking in to be honest and I've been reading all of the nice messages people have been sending me.

"In my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined this. I'd like to thank all the people who were always there during the difficult moments.

10 - The player to have provided most assists in #LaLiga for Villarreal ever (38), Santiago Cazorla, has provided 10 assists in @LaLiga this season, more than any other season alongside 2010/2011. Return #Roja — OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 17, 2019

"I'm going to enjoy it, I plan to give my best as I always have done with the national team. This had already been a really nice season but I didn't expect it to end this way.

"If someone had told me this was going to happen, I wouldn't have believed them. I was out injured for two years and after something like that it is very hard to return to the top level."

Spain play away in the Faroe Islands on 7 June before hosting Sweden three days later.

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