Born on the 28th of April 1988 in the city of Oviedo, Juan Manuel Mata started his career in Real Madrid’s youth ranks in 2004 before stepping up to Real Madrid Castilla two years later.
In his time at Castilla, the left-footed youngster made 35 Liga Adelante appearances and scored 10 goals, but that was his last act as a Real Madrid player because Valencia CF snapped him up on a free transfer.
In the Mestalla, Mata has flourished as a player and has been very consistent for the Spanish outfit. In his first season at the club, he made 24 Liga BBVA appearances and scored 5 goals. In his second season in Valencia, he was ever-present for the club and missed only one league match all season long, scoring 11 in the process.
Mata became a household name in Valencia after the club’s biggest assets, David Villa and David Silva, were sold after seasons of courtship from many suitors.
On the International scene, Spain is a country that is blessed with a vast array of talent in midfield so Mata has featured sparingly for the nation, but he got his debut against Turkey on the 28th of March, 2009. He has played only 11 games for Spain and has scored four goals, but he has featured for the country in all available youth levels with the highest amount of appearances at the Under-21 level.
Mata hasn’t won anything at club level, but the three medals he has amassed have been won in the national team colors of Spain. In 2006, he won the European Under-19 Championships before winning the 2010 World Cup with Spain last summer. He was voted as the MVP in the recently concluded European Under-21 Championships that took place in Scandinavia. Spain also emerged as the winners of that tournament.
Mata had been on the radar of Arsenal Football Club and had been touted as the potential replacement for Arsenal’s departing captain, Francesc Fabregas.
Here’s my take on the top 10 footballing attributes possessed by Juan Manuel Mata.