Mata: Winning Europa League was special
Our Spanish playmaker, Juan, recently spoke to UEFA about his ambition to repeat our 2017 success in Stockholm...
Juan Mata UEFA interview, 17 September 2017 Football has been part of my life from a very early age. My father was a professional footballer, and as far back as I can remember, my mum, my sister and I would travel around Spain following my dad and the teams in which he played. I played everywhere, all the time. At school, in the street after school. I always dreamed of becoming a professional, and to get to the top-flight in Spain. Valencia During the years before I arrived, their fans were used to fighting for the league and winning major trophies, UEFA Cups amongst others. So it was an important step in my career which allowed me, above all, to make the switch from being a boy to becoming a real footballer in a professional environment. In the dressing room, it was fantastic. It was a mix of experienced players along with key players, like [David] Villa and [David] Silva, and then there were young players like myself. The truth is that I only have appreciative and positive things to say about Valencia, because it was truly one of the most important moments in my career. Chelsea Well, I spent two-and-a-half seasons at Chelsea and I also have incredible memories from the moment I arrived there. On a sporting level, things were phenomenal and on a personal level it also really helped me to leave my country, to try to learn a new language, a new culture. After joining Chelsea, we won the Champions League in 2012, then the Europa League. The winner came from a corner, one of those legendary corners. United With United, it was also really special. It was the first time the club played in, and won, this tournament and it was great to beat an Ajax side who went on to be a great team in the following years. Whenever you win a European competition, it’s special. I hope I can win it for a third time. [Ole’s] philosophy comes from his experience as a player here. He played under Sir Alex Ferguson, possibly the greatest manager in history. A coach who could move with the times and continue to win despite numerous changes to his squads. I think that’s what Ole is trying to achieve. He’s trying to turn United into the side they once were: an attacking team who always look to score; a team that wins trophies. Let’s hope that proves to be the case.