After signing for Manchester United in January 2014, Juan Mata has since established himself as not only one of the best players in the side but one of the most popular ones too.
Widely recognised as one of the classiest characters in football, this article pays testament to one of our fan favourites.
1: His status as the ‘nicest guy in football’
In the build-up to Manchester United’s bitterly disappointing draw at home to bottom-dwellers Stoke, Juan Mata provided a moment of warmth, class and respect by embracing a young disabled fan. Although small, the sentiment would have a profound, positive effect on the life of this young man.
In fact, this isn’t the first time Juan Mata has involved himself with the disabled contingent of the Manchester United fan base. Earlier this year in May, he provided yet another touching gesture after celebrating with another young fan in the aftermath of United’s 2-1 win over Norwich.
As if this wasn’t enough to consolidate his status as the nicest guy in football, he took time out last year to offer his personal congratulations to Jonathon Flood, a club employee, on his fifteenth anniversary with the club.
2: Respect for the game
With the vast popularity, and indeed controversy of the sport, Mata is the epitome of the admirable professional footballer. Some athletes are often scrutinised for their glamorous and prima donna lifestyles – something with which Mata, despite his high-profile, is never associated.
Moreover, the Spaniard has only been sent off once in over five hundred appearances in professional football, a rare occurrence in last season’s away fixture against West Bromwich Albion.
His respect for the game transcends the pitch. As an ambassador for Street World Football, he supports an organisation that utilises football to achieve social change in sectors such as gender equality and social integration. For more information, click here.
3: His blog writing
Juan Mata actively shares his views and experiences in weekly instalments via his blog, thus maintaining a constant two-way engagement with the fans, regularly asking for their opinions on songs and movies.
After a turbulent few seasons for United, Mata has often used his blog to unify the side and the fans alike, in difficult times; such as the recent home draw Stoke City.
In disappointing periods, it’s admirable that Mata steps up and takes responsibility for the side; he comes across as someone who genuinely cares for the shirt.
4: Activity on social media
Alongside his blog writing, Mata engages with the United fan base via his various social media channels.
If you’re interested in seeing regular fancy photos, swing by his Instagram. Or should you be interested in brushing up on your footballing ability, visit his YouTube for his skill tutorials – a valuable resource for all young, aspiring football players.
5: His technical prowess and ability on the pitch
Last, but certainly not least, we adore Juan Mata for his formidable ability on the pitch. Best operated as a number ten, but equally capable of playing as an inverted winger, Juan Mata is lauded for his ability to interlink with his teammates and unlock teams.
When given the license to play centrally, Mata’s clever distribution and creativity is key to Manchester United’s play. For a testimony of Mata’s ability as a footballer, look no further than his recent ManUtd.com Goal of the Month. Or perhaps, more relevant to Monday’s fixture, his spectacular strike against Liverpool in March 2015.
It’s safe to say Mata epitomises all the respectful values of Manchester United, and is one of the few players worthy of being lauded as one of the sport’s role models.
Written by Will Darby