There were some of us who picked up on it very early doors but two-footed players are even less common than the left-footed ones so its maybe not surprising that many had to have it pointed out to them. Most players these days can play off either foot but its mainly a matter of degree as to just how well, a simple short range pass is all most will attempt. With Santi he looks just so natural on either foot that it would be a waste of time for a defender to try and work him onto his wrong one even if they could figure which it was. As it happens Santi is right footed but you certainly wouldn't know that by watching him shoot or play, in fact I only know that because it is what Wenger has said so.
Wenger's quote on him was: ‘Santi is right footed but when you watch him play you don’t know. It shows how important that is in the modern midfield. Right or left foot was always important, but we forget about it sometimes. I’m surprised there are not more.’
You'd have to a agree with Wenger about that. I doubt that many think about the left-right balance too much but Wenger has always attempted to balance his sides with both and over the years we've had our share of left-footed players. None more so than Nigel Winterburn who was so one-footed it looked positively awkward at times, but even he scored one with his right peg. The fact that there are not more seemingly natural two-footed players around surprises Wenger and in this day and age it surprises me. He sited Glenda Hoddle as one such, but a far better example would be Bobby Charlton in my opinion. Sir Bobby was a right-footed player who played wide-left in his early career to his later advantage, and to England's as it happens.
For Arsenal we've had quite a few who can use either foot effectively but none so naturally as Santi. I say that because I really wouldn't have known if he was right or left footed if Arsene hadn't said so. The only other Arsenal player I can recall being so totally two-footed was George Armstrong. Geordie of course was a legend who graced our first Double side with two quality feet and an engine the likes of which you'll hardly ever see again. He was by trade a winger but was in effect an engine room who would play down either or both flanks, often in the same game. Uniquely I believe he was the only player I've ever seen who could strike both inswinging and out-swinging corners from either flank with either foot. How he never played for England is quite unbelievable. Mainly you'd suspect because Alf Ramsey had abandoned wingers altogether, but that's another story.
Meanwhile back at our current two-footed Spanish gem, he really is a rather tasty player isn't he. But can he maintain such form throughout a season? Or maybe he can even improve further as he comes to grips with the English game. Only time will tell, but he already matches Geordie in my eyes regarding his two-footed skills. Better yet he appears to be absolutely loving his football with Arsenal as much as we're all enjoying his play.
Courtesy of The Highbury Library