Juan Mata at AS
Juanín Mata gave this interview to AS yesterday, and I like it, so here it is.
Q: Only three players in history have gone down to the U-21 team after becoming world champions: Bergomi, Javi Martínez and you…
A: I thought it was a good idea from the time that I spoke with Hierro and he raised the possibility of returning to help out the U-21 team. It’s a great opportunity to go to the Olympic Games. And now I’m just one more player.
Q: Was the possibility of playing in the Olympics an extra motivation?
A: The Olympic Games is something great for any sportsman, and for us footballers too. The incentive is different from those of other occasions.
Q: Did you think it would be a step back for you to return to the U-21 team, especially when there were four changes in the first call-up of the senior team?
A: No. I see being on the U-21 team right now as something logical and normal. It’s really important. We have a lot at stake. The fact that Del Bosque didn’t call me up despite all the injuries means that this playoff against Croatia is in fact very important.
Q: You’ve had a great start to the season. Are you playing your best football now?
A: It’s an important year for me, and I have the goal of doing things well and improving. We (Valencia) started well and I’m happy with my play. It could be one of the best moments, because the team is doing really well, which reinforces you at the individual level. Let’s see if we’ll be able to keep it up.
Q: Will you watch the Lithuania and Scotland games?
A: Of course. I wish them (my teammates) a lot of luck because every game is complicated, and much more now that we’re world champions. Everyone wants to beat us.
Q: Has what you all achieved in South Africa sunk in with time?
A: You realize it bit by bit. It was something historical. Spanish football is in its best moment now. Our style of play brings results. And for that, we have to go to the Olympic Games.
Q: I hope so. Tomorrow you’re playing in your birthplace, although later on you moved to your beloved Asturias.
A: Yes. I have uncles and cousins in Burgos. And my father played there as a winger. It’ll be great.