Happy 33rd birthday to a genuine football magician – Juan Mata.
The graceful Spaniard has brought joy to football fans for more than a decade, representing Valencia, Chelsea and Manchester United.
Not only was he an absolute pleasure to watch in his peak, but he’s also one of the nicest guys in the sport.
In 2012, he along with former Premier League players Santi Cazorla and Michu bought shares in his youth club Real Oviedo, who were struggling financially.
While in 2017, he set up the Common Goal charity where footballers pledge 1% of their salary to raise much-needed funds.
What a guy.
On the pitch, Mata has won the lot. Well, almost the lot as he’s still searching for a Premier League title despite playing for Chelsea and Man Utd for the last 11 seasons.
He’s won the FA Cup twice, the League Cup, the Champions League, the Europa League twice and the Copa del Rey.
On the International stage, he won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championships in 2012 with a goal in the final against Italy.
Don’t ever forget just how good he really was.
And, on his birthday, we’ve dug out a clip that sums up Mata’s magic in the space of a few seconds.
In a Man Utd match at Old Trafford in front of a full house, the ball was booted high into the air by a United defender. It came down with snow on it as Mata jostled with a defender to regain possession.
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And he did so a quite stupendous first touch, killing the ball dead as it dropped from the sky.
The home fans responded in disbelief as they all let out ‘Oooooh’s’ before applauding as Mata kept possession whilst being man-marked.
What. A. Touch.
Mata has been at Manchester United since January 2013 but his future is uncertain with his current contract set to expire at the end of the season.
Where next for the ‘The Wizard’?