In an interview with Manchester United’s official website, Juan Mata has admitted that he felt ’embarrassed’ at one of the final moments of his first season with the Red Devils.
The playmaker joined the Manchester outfit halfway through the 2013/14 season from Chelsea for a fee of £37.1m, as per BBC Sport.
The Red Devils were struggling at the time under new boss David Moyes, the man hand-picked to succeed legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
Moyes was ultimately sacked before the end of the season, with all-time United great Ryan Giggs taking caretaker charge of the side for the final few games of the season.
Mata made an instant impact for the side after joining in January, the attacking midfielder scored six goals and chipped in with five assists in 15 Premier League outings for United in 2013/14.
Mata now admits that he felt ’embarrassed’ after United’s final home game of the season, as the fans hailed the team during the traditional lap of honour at Old Trafford, despite the side sitting 7th.
Here’s what Mata had to say on that period of time:
“What I remember the most about that first season was we always do a lap of honour, if you like, to say ‘thank you and goodbye, see you next season’. I was very, very afraid of that.”
“We were in seventh position in the league, a position Manchester United should never be in.”
“I was like I’m going to wave and they’re going to boo us and insult us, like they should feel. I come from Spain and know things turn difficult when a team is not performing.”
“I didn’t want to look at the people, just in case. I was embarrassed. About halfway [around the pitch], I realised they were clapping and singing, encouraging us and saying it doesn’t matter, it’s next season.”
“This is incredible.”
“You are seventh in the league with Manchester United, having been winners the year before with Sir Alex Ferguson, but they don’t lose patience. They say: ‘keep going, it doesn’t matter’.”
Mata was certainly encouraged after that moment as he scored in United’s final game of the season, an away draw against Southampton.
The former Chelsea star’s performances may have slipped over the last couple of years, but he’s always proved to be a model professional and a real credit to the Red Devils.