Juan Mata at Fuera de Serie
El Mundo’s Fuera de Serie magazine had Xabi Alonso on the cover for its inaugural issue, and several weeks later it has followed that stellar appearance with Juan Mata! The piece is very much along the lines of every other interview of Juanín in recent years (at least the ones you can find here; I think the journalists need to come up with a new angle), but more PF is always welcome, no?
Juan Mata is an atypical footballer: he’s studying two subjects (physical education and marketing) while playing for his club and country; he reads Murakami and Enrique Vila-Matas; he writes during his free time; he’s a gourmand and a cinephile; and he’s decided to learn how to play the guitar this year (he would like to have been a musician if he weren’t a footballer). He tells us all this during an interview in London, a few days before his transfer to Manchester United was confirmed.
Chelsea’s fans have shown you how much they love you…
Yes, that’s what they show me, both on the street and via social networks. I feel very fortunate to receive this affection, which really is difficult to describe with words. From the first day, they’ve shown me their appreciation, and they even chose me as the best player for two years in a row. They are really fantastic fans.
What are your expectations for the World Cup?
The World Cup is a wonderful event, and one that could make 2014 an even better year. Expectations are obviously high, since we were the champions in South Africa. Winning it four years ago was one of the most special moments of my life and I have the hope of repeating it with my teammates, though we know it will be very difficult.
This question is for your female fans. Are you still single?
I’ve always tried to be tranquil and discrete with my personal life.
On the field, you’re as precise as an IWC watch [he represents the firm]. And in life?
The truth is I’m not as much as I would like to be. Sometimes I’m a bit of a disaster, but I think this bit of improvisation is what makes life colorful.
You once said, “I’ve been able to respond to almost all of the questions I’ve been asked by referring to football.” That doesn’t seem very believable, considering that you have so many interests.
I was referring to the fact that with football, you can find answers related to humility, to teamwork, to ambition, to the desire to improve and even interpersonal relations. Football answers many important questions, and you can find all these aspects in the game. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have other interests in life; I do have many. As you said, I like to spend my free time relaxing and disconnecting from football by reading, eating, listening to music or watching a good movie. For me, that’s necessary.
And you’re also a writer. What do you have left to do, what is still pending for you?
My calling from the time I was a kid was to be a footballer. I try not to forgot that because I know I’m living my dream. Sometimes, especially when I’m listening to concerts or watching documentaries, I imagine the lives that singers or musicians lead, and I’m fascinated by them. But since I don’t sing well and I don’t play any instrument (I would like to learn how to play the guitar, which is one of my resolutions for this year), it would be complicated for me.
What’s your relationship like with your teammates off of the field?
Very good. You always find interesting people amongst your teammates. The public image that each one has is another matter. But in all the teams I’ve played for, I’ve always found people that I could go out to eat with or speak about issues other than the next game. I have true friends thanks to football. And I’m very proud of that.
You’re studying physical education and marketing. Do you know what you’re going to do after you retire from football?
I’m still young and I hope to continue playing for many more years. In the meantime, I believe it’s important to prepare yourself, and at the same time, disconnect from football with a certain responsibility. I find marketing interesting, and I read all I can about it, and I like it. I know that right now football is what is most important to me, but once this marvelous time is over, perhaps I’ll do other things that aren’t related to it. The truth is I don’t know what I’m going to do after I retire.
You gave up your adolescence and youth to become a professional. Have you recovered what you lost?
I left home at the age of 15, which is not very normal, since that’s a very young age to leave your family. And while it was a tough decision, I don’t think I lost my adolescence. We’ll say that I had a different adolescence than the majority of boys that age. Dedicating yourself to football makes you move quickly from adolescence to adulthood, since you have to make decisions that perhaps don’t correspond with your age. Fortunately, I think I got it right, because while it’s true that I gave up several things, football has given me many more. I’ve always felt that all that I wasn’t able to do was worth it, because playing this sport is what I love most in this world.
Did your parents encourage you to pursue football, given how good a student you were?
They always told me to do what I liked, and they still do that. My parents are very important in my life and my career. The fact that my father was a footballer meant that football was a constant at home.
Do you feel comfortable posing like a professional model?
After many years as a professional and many photo shoots, I have become used to the cameras. As time goes by, you feel more free in front of the cameras than in the beginning, which is normal. I know that my profession is football but I try to enjoy the photo sessions. Sometimes they’re quite fun.
And what do you like about IWC?
It’s a special and distinct brand of watches. I’ve collaborated with them on various projects over the years, and the one that I’ve enjoyed the most is the one with the Laureus Foundation. I really like their watches and their style, and everyone who works for IWC Spain is fantastic. I’m proud to be a friend of the brand and of our work with the foundation.
And here’s the guide to “Mata Style.”
Ray-ban: Wayferer sunglasses are his favorite. Gucci cologne: he never leaves home without a few drops of cologne. Night Visions: he relaxes by listening to the music of American indie band Imagine Dragons. Adidas: he likes classic sneakers, such as this Originals model. IWC: his preferred watch is the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar. Murakami: Norwegian Wood is the book on his nightstand. Searching for Sugar Man: the film by Malik Bendjelloul about the singer Sixto Rodríguez is his favorite. Hackett: there’s nothing better than a scarf to protect from the cold of England.
P.S. How sweet were the messages from Fernando Torres and César Azpilicueta saying bye to Juan? They’re definitely the type of teammates he goes out to eat with and talks about anything and everything with!