Mata: I call my mum before every single game
Juan Mata has experienced a lot during his career, from winning the World Cup and European Championship with Spain to scoring a match-winning double for Manchester United at Anfield.
The playmaker and founder of the Common Goal charity is one of the most decorated players in the game, having claimed both major European trophies as well as a raft of domestic cups during spells at Valencia, Chelsea and United, but he remains very close to his family back in his native Spain.
In the second of four extracts we’ll be publishing from Juan’s new autobiography, 'Juan Mata: Suddenly A Footballer', our midfielder explains the lengths his mother Marta goes to in order to keep in touch with him...
“My mother has always been more worried about my physical wellbeing during a match than the result. That’s why, even now, I always call her when I’m on the coach on the way to the stadium. Always.
“It’s a ritual that we both enjoy, and which is also an extra source of motivation for me. Be careful. Enjoy, shoot . . . and try not to get hurt,”are always her words. Heaven knows how she would cope if I were, say, a free skier. But for all that she gets rather nervous during games, she still doesn’t miss a single one. She’s even gone so far as to send me text messages during a game.
“She’s fully aware of the fact that, obviously, I can’t see it, so I imagine that she does it as a kind of release mechanism for her worry and sometimes frustration.
“Whenever I had a knock, or I looked slightly injured during a game, the first message on my phone is hers. ‘Are you OK? Tell me something when you can.’
“As I will explain fully in a later chapter, I was sent off for the first and, thankfully, only time in my career when I picked up two yellow cards in three minutes. The first message I received when I got into the dressing room was from, guess who? Yes, my mother. ‘How are you? It was harsh, but you learn from these sorts of things.’
“Sometimes, she even goes so far as to give me football ‘lessons’ (you understand now why her mother does the same, right?). ‘You should’ve shot there. You should’ve crossed it.’
“I guess it’s all part of being a mother, and we only have one.
“My mother is undoubtedly a key figure in my life. I will always do everything that’s in my hands to make her happy. She deserves it more than anyone else.”
HOW TO READ MORE FROM JUAN
Mata is proud to support Common Goal, which aims to unite the global football community in tackling the greatest social challenges of our time.
He is giving 99 per cent of his proceeds from this book to this cause. Why 99 per cent? Read the book to find out.
'Juan Mata: Suddenly A Footballer' is on sale now, online and from the Manchester United club store.