Santi Cazorla has offered a bleak insight into his injury nightmare at former club Arsenal .
The Spanish midfielder only left the Gunners in the summer, despite not playing for the club since October 2016.
And now Cazorla has revealed to the BBC the extent of his injury hell, and how former manager Arsene Wenger reacted when he saw it.
Cazorla said: "There were loads of really bad moments. Going under the knife 11 times in 2 years, that’s 11 bad moments for a start because whenever you have to have surgery, that’s never a good moment.
"And there were some tough times where I was on the point of saying, we’ve got to this point, and I don’t have the strength to carry on.
"I then got an infection while in surgery which unfortunately they did not spot, which led to those bacteria eating away 8 centimetres of my tendon."
The 33-year-old pinpoints his the start of his problems back to a friendly game in Chile in 2013, where he was kicked on the ankle and has suffered pain ever since.
Cazorla played through the pain barrier, before finally realising he could not carry on, in what proved to be his final match for Arsenal against Ludogorets in 2016.
Speaking of his ex-manager Wenger, Cazorla said: "I remember Arsene saying that he’d never seen an injury like it in all his time in football.
"Mikel Sanchez, a doctor who has operated on loads of footballers. I believe he’s never had a case like mine before, where 2 different bacterias eat away at 8 to 10 centimetres of an Achilles tendon.
"I have parts of my body where they’ve put skin from my arm on my ankle, and from my thigh on my arm.
"So it’s like a little jigsaw, parts of my body all over the place!"
Cazorla says his one regret was never being able to pull on an Arsenal shirt again after his injury, to say goodbye in front of the fans that treated him so well.
He has since moved back to the club where it all started for him in Spain, Villarreal , but harbours no bad feelings towards the North London club.
"I don’t attach any blame at all to Arsenal.
"At the end of the day, I don’t know exactly what the problem was but it was after the operation in London when I caught the infection and unfortunately the problem wasn’t tackled in time."
Villarreal have struggled in La Liga so far this season, picking up just one win, but Cazorla claims he is just happy to be back playing.
"Quite often I get asked the question: ‘does football owe you more, or do you owe football more?’
"I always reply that I owe the game a huge amount.
"Right now though I see football in a different way. As I try and enjoy every second."
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