Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata is the definition of classy on and off the pitch so it should come as no surprises that his music taste is as exquisite as his first touch. The midfielder, who has won just about every trophy there is to win in world football, which includes the World Cup, European Championships, Champions League, Europa League, The FA Cup and more, has seen his career solidify a legacy as one of the Premier League’s greatest.
Often dubbed the ‘nicest man in football’, Juan Mata started his career at the club his father represented with Real Oviedo in the hills of Northern Spain. His time with Oviedo would be short-lived, however, when a 15-year-old Mata swap Asturias for the capital city as he chased his dreams following a meeting with Real Madrid. After spending the next four years at the club and after growing more disillusioned with fading hope of potential opportunities in the first team, Mata moved on to Valencia who paid his release clause of $1.1million—a moment which would truly spark the beginning of his career.
Mata started the season on the periphery of the first-team squad at Valencia but, after the team became disrupted by a string of injuries, his chance to play football at the highest level finally arrived and that 15-year-old who left Asturias had achieved his dream. This moment was one that Mata was determined to not let go and he made himself undroppable for Valencia, even scoring a brace in the Copa del Rey semi-final against FC Barcelona to help Valencia reach the final against Getafe CF where he the opened the scoring in a 3–1 win.
The next couple of seasons saw Mata carry on where he left off and, in the 2007-08 season with Valencia, the excellent form for his club landed him a place in Spain’s World Cup squad and he was bound for South Africa in 2010. Aged just 22, Mata would become a World Cup winner and had reached the pinnacle of the sport when, just three years prior, he was yet to play a top-flight game. It marked the completion of a meteoric athletic rise.
“It’s the best memory I have in football. I still have goosebumps when I think about it,” Mata later recalled about the experience. “Seeing the photo of the parade! I’ve never seen the country so united for anything. There was a very bad economic crisis, a lot of unemployed people, but for a while, it didn’t matter, you could look around for kilometres, and you couldn’t see any empty space. At that time football united our country like nothing else in the world,” he proudly stated.
After gaining the attention of the world, Mata would add major transfer news to his life of a professional and headed to England in 2011, a decision which led to Chelsea securing his signature and, quite typically, he hit the ground running. In his first season, Mata secured the greatest prize in club football when Chelsea miraculously won the Champions League after penalty success, a nervewracking moment which included Mata himself leading the charge, scoring his first spot kick. Not slowing down the momentum, the champion added yet more glittering silverware to his name just weeks later, winning the European Championships with Spain to round-off a splendid season.
Fully established as one of the world’s best, the next year he was awarded Chelsea’s Player’s Player of the Year, Chelsea’s Player of the Year and nominated for PFA Players’ Player of the Year after another successful season which was rounded off with a Europa League win for Chelsea. Despite, being their star player for the last two years, Mata found himself frozen out the following season and departed in January 2014 in a £37.5 million deal to sign for Manchester United.
Mata has become a cult figure at Old Trafford over the next seven years, a run which has seen the midfielder win yet more trophies to bolster his cabinet. He is undoubtedly one of the most skilful, easy on the eye midfielders to watch from his generation and remains an integral player to the team in 2020.
Mata, also the co-founder of Common Goal, created a pledge-based charitable movement by for the football industry, a charity which has successfully recruited a number of high-profile footballers to donate 1% of their wage to a collective fund that supports football charities around the world. Some of the names to have joined Mata’s Common Goal team since it’s launch include Mats Hummels, Serge Gnabry, Alex Morgan and countless others.
When Mata isn’t playing football or raising money for charity, he likes to relax by listening to music and it should come as no surprise that his sonic taste is as classy as he is a player and a man. Mata’s public Spotify playlist of his favourite songs from the 1960s and ’70s provides a look at what the midfield maestro listens to, which features legendary artists like Bob Dylan, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys.