Mata hails legendary Zola

Next Story

Juan Mata believes he's growing as a person - as well as a footballer - after his summer switch to Stamford Bridge.

The £23 million Chelsea signing has already made an impression on Blues fans since his arrival in west London, scoring on debut against Norwich City and impressing in the Champions League against former club Valencia.

Mata's not just interested in playing the game though, and the Spanish international is well aware of the history and tradition surrounding both the club and it's former players - most notably Gianfranco Zola.

"Gianfranco Zola was an incredibly talented player, a really high-quality footballer, who scored a lot of goals and was involved in setting up a lot of goals as well," Mata told Chelsea magazine.

"On arriving here at Chelsea, it's quite clear that he's a legend and that people have a lot of respect for him. That's what he deserves, as he was a brilliant player.

"I remember when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink played in Spain, for Atletico Madrid, and he scored a lot of goals. People in Spain would call him 'The Hasselbaink Rifle' because he would always be shooting!"

Whilst foreign imports can often take time to settle in the Barclays Premier League, Mata admits his time under Andre Villas-Boas has started well since the big-money move from the Mestalla.


The 23-year-old is also taking English lessons to help him integrate further into society, and Mata is excited with the prospect of discovering London further during his time in the capital.

"It seems everything has come together really nicely for me. I have been given the opportunity to grow as a footballer within a really big club," he continued.

"However, this is not just a chance to grow on a professional level but also on a personal level because I am living in a new country, learning the language and studying. It's important for me to grow as a person; to gain new experiences, to explore other cultures, ways of life and learn a new language.

"I haven't seen too much of London yet, but the area around Stamford Bridge - the King's Road, Chelsea and Fulham - is really impressive. This seems to be a very cosmopolitan, multicultural city, so I'm really looking forward to exploring it."

Premier League
Next Story

Read more