By Chris Harris
Making history with Malaga and Spain and making a splash in the Premier League - it has been quite some year for Santi Cazorla.
The Arsenal playmaker has quickly become a pivotal figure in the Arsenal team and he brought pleasure to two other sets of fans in 2012 after helping his former club qualify for the Champions League for the first time and then winning the European Championship.
The fact that Cazorla was only required for 16 minutes of Spain's triumph in Poland and Ukraine speaks volumes for his country's strength in depth and explains why they are the first team to win three consecutive international tournaments.
"That is something you never forget," Cazorla told Arsenal Player. "It is clear that, as football players always say, we do not realise what we have achieved until many years have passed.
"In football everything moves very fast, you do not have enough time to take stock of what you have achieved, but all in all, it is the highest accolade, to win something for your country, to see everyone on the streets celebrating.
"That was a reason to be happy, and hopefully we can repeat that success for the Spanish people many times."
Cazorla's career high was followed by a step into the unknown when he left Malaga for Arsenal in the summer. Seven goals in 25 appearances only hint at the 28-year-old's influence and Cazorla is glad he accepted the challenge.
"It was a very important decision, to change teams," he said. "It is a new challenge, it is a completely new adventure from the start, you have to start from zero, aside from the fact of going into a different culture, a new league, a new language.
"But I think that with Arsenal, I was offered an opportunity that I could not turn down, being 27 years old [at the time], it was like a train that I had to take, and I am very satisfied.
"I am learning a lot, I am adapting more and more as days go by, and my aim is to learn the English game, and hopefully I will spend some good years at this club."
Cazorla's hat-trick at Reading before Christmas and man-of-the-match display in the north London derby demonstrated the ease with which he has adapted to the Premier League. English football already admires Arsenal's new creative force and it seems the feeling is mutual.
"I really enjoy the league, the atmosphere at the stadiums, the respect of the people, their kindness, it is incredible," said Cazorla.
"Regarding the collective, we have dropped some points, and we hope that from now on we can all improve. That is what we all want, to see Arsenal further up the table.
"It has been a positive year for me. It is true that there are always ups and downs throughout the year, that is normal, but if I look everything that I have achieved, everything that I have experienced, I am very satisfied.
"I have achieved great things, I am still growing as a football player, and for next year I will aim for more of the same, to be successful with Arsenal, and to continue learning and growing every day."
Watch the full interview with Santi on Arsenal PlayerCopyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 31 Dec 2012