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Juan Manuel Mata García, ( ; born 28 April 1988) is a Spanish footballer who plays for Valencia CF, mainly as a left winger.

Mata is a clever player possessing great pace, intelligence and goalscoring ability.

Club career

Born in Burgosmarker, Castile and Leónmarker, Mata started his football career at Real Oviedo, where his father spent most of his career. He stayed there for three years before joining Real Madrid at age 12. After appearing for Cadete A, he swiftly progressed through the junior teams, Juvenil C and finally the Juvenil A. In his last campaign (2005–06) he scored 18 goals in the league and three more in the Copa de Campeones, including the winner in the final against Real Valladolid, adding another three in the Spanish Juvenil Cup.

Switching to Real Madrid Castilla in 2006–07, Mata was given the number 34 shirt in the first team, while wearing number 28 in Castilla. In spite of Castilla's final relegation, Mata finished the season as the side's second best scorer at nine, behind striker Álvaro Negredo (18).

Mata had a contractual clause at Real Madrid during his last season at the club, and eventually agreed to sign for Valencia CF on March 2007, starting in 2007–08.

Benefitting from constant injuries to Vicente and the ostracism to which then-manager Ronald Koeman condemned Miguel Ángel Angulo, Mata gradually carved a niche on Valencia's first eleven. On March 20, 2008, he scored twice in the Spanish Cup semifinal match against FC Barcelona to help Valencia reach the final against Getafe CF where, on April 16, he scored the opener in a 3–1 win. During that first season, Mata was voted the team's Best young player by fans and players.

In the Spanish Supercup, Mata scored against his former club Real Madrid in a 3–2 first leg victory, but Valencia lost 5–6 on aggregate as Real Madrid won 4–2 in the second leg. He started 2008–09 well, scoring in the opener against RCD Mallorca (3–0 win). He also netted the only goal of the game against CA Osasuna, latching on to a long ball from David Villa.

On September 25, 2008, Mata's understanding with Villa proved to be growing in efficiency, as he set up both of his teammate's goals in a 2–0 away win over Málaga CF. Three days later, Mata put in a superb performance against Deportivo de La Coruña, scoring one and creating the other three, in a 4–2 home victory.

Towards the end of the campaign, Mata managed to score two very important late goals for Valencia: the first, the 3–2 winner at Sporting de Gijón, and the second a penalty against Sevilla FC at home, to put Valencia 2–1 up (specialist Villa had already been replaced due to injury) in an eventual 3–1 success. He achieved impressive stats during the season, finishing with 11 successful strikes and 13 assist (in the latter category, league's second-best, behind FC Barcelona's Xavi Hernández's 20).

International career

Mata helped Spain win the 2006 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship, where he was a key player. 'Juanín' finished the championship second to his teammate Alberto Bueno (five goals) as top goal scorer of the competition, with four in five matches.

On February 1, 2007, U-21 coach Iñaki Sáez included him on his squad for the friendly against England, alongside Roberto Soldado, José Manuel Jurado, Sergio Sánchez, Miguel Torres, Esteban Granero and Antonio Adán, at just 18 years and 10 months.

On November 14, 2008, Vicente del Bosque called Mata for the senior team to play in a friendly against Chile. He did not leave the bench in a 3–0 home win. On March 28, 2009, he finally made his debut, in the 2010 World Cup qualifier against Turkey, a 1–0 win in Madridmarker. He came on as a substitute for teammate Villa, in the 63rd minute.

In June 2009, del Bosque included Mata for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, the youngster's first senior tournament. He started in the second group match against Iraq, and came on as a substitute for Albert Riera in the semifinal loss to the United States.

On 9 September 2009, Mata scored his first goal for the senior team, as the 3–0 win against Estonia secured a place in the upcoming World Cup. He followed this up with the winner against Armenia on 10 October, scoring a penalty to steal a 2-1 win.

Statistics

Club

(correct as of 17/9/2009)




International



International goals



Personal life

Mata attended the Universidad Politecnica de Madridstudying journalism. In his spare time, he enjoys playing table-tennis.

His father, also called Juan, is his agent, and is FIFAmarker-registered.

Honours

Club



Country



References

  1. Mata makes his move; UEFA.com, 16 January 2009
  2. Mata seizes final chance for Valencia; UEFA.com, 20 March 2008
  3. Morientes glad as Valencia get relief; UEFA.com, 16 April 2008
  4. Villa goals ensure Valencia victory; UEFA.com, 28 September 2008
  5. Spain sweep into U19 final; UEFA.com, 26 July 2006
  6. Armenia 1-2 Spain
  7. Mata could buy out Valencia contract to complete Barcelona move


External links



2007–08 Valencia CF La Liga 24 5 8 4 1 0 33 9
2008–09 Valencia CF La Liga 37 11 2 1 6 1 45 13
2009–10 Valencia CF La Liga 8 4 0 0 3 1 11 5
69||20||10||5||10||2||89||27
National team
Year
Competitive
Friendly
Total
Apps
Goals
Apps
Goals
Apps
Goals
Spain
2009–10
3 3 0 0 3 3
Career total
6 3 0 0 6 3
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 9 September 2009 Estadio Romanomarker, Méridamarker, Spainmarker 3–0 3–0 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
2. 10 October 2009 Yerevanmarker, Armeniamarker 2–1 2-1 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
3. 14 October 2009 Zenicamarker, Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker 5-0 5-2

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