Manchester United ace Juan Mata names his ultimate XI of former team-mates, with John Terry, Frank Lampard, David Villa and Wayne Rooney included, but there’s no room for Eden Hazard… while Spaniard opts for RONALD KOEMAN as his manager
- Juan Mata has picked an XI of the best footballers he has ever played alongside
- The Man United midfielder named the likes of Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs
- He also selected old Chelsea team-mates such as John Terry and Frank Lampard
- Surprisingly, the Spaniard chose Ronald Koeman as manager of the fantasy team
Juan Mata has devised an ultimate XI of the best team-mates he has played alongside in his career – and put Ronald Koeman in charge of the fantasy team.
Mata, who is currently a backup squad member at Manchester United, has plied his trade with some of the most talented players in world football over the years.
After leaving Real Madrid’s Castilla side, the Spanish midfielder got his career underway at Valencia before heading to Chelsea in 2011.
He spent two-and-a-half years with the Blues, winning the Champions League, FA Cup and Europa League, before heading to United in January 2014.
Juan Mata has picked an XI of the best footballers he has played alongside in his career
As part of an interview with FourFourTwo, Mata was asked to produce an XI made up of the best players he has had the privilege of sharing a dressing room with.
The 33-year-old is spoilt for choice in all positions, but United and Spain colleague David de Gea was an easy choice in goal.
‘David is a very good friend, and also the most talented goalkeeper that I’ve ever played with – his reactions are amazing,’ he said. ‘Every goalkeeping coach will tell you his natural ability is unbelievable.’
At the back, Mata opted for Chelsea duo Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry, along with United pair Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra.
Good friend and compatriot David de Gea was an easy choice for Mata in between the sticks
Manchester United defenders Patrice Evra (L) and Rio Ferdinand were also included
Controversially, there was no room for the likes of Ashley Cole, David Luiz or Cesar Azpilicueta.
Mata selected an all-British midfield, with United’s Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs accompanied by Chelsea legend Frank Lampard, whom he was quick to wax lyrical about as one of English football’s all-time greats.
Speaking about Lampard’s inclusion, he insisted: ‘Simply, one of the best players in the history of English football.
‘Frank scored so many goals for a midfielder. He could switch the play, pick a pass and also arrive in the penalty area at the right time to find the net.
Chelsea legends John Terry (L) and Frank Lampard (R) also made it into their old colleague’s XI
Mata believes Lampard is one of the greatest players to ever grace English football
Former Spain team-mate David Villa also received a place in Mata’s ultimate XI
There was no room in the team for ex-Chelsea star Eden Hazard amongst many others
‘His goalscoring was his best attribute – how many midfielders have that? Oh, and he could take penalties brilliantly, too.’
Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba – whose heroics in Munich helped Mata clinch the 2012 Champions League – and David Villa were his preferred trio in attack, with the likes of Fernando Torres, Eden Hazard, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial snubbed.
But the most surprising choice of all is Mata’s manager, as instead of Jose Mourinho, Roberto di Matteo, Vicente del Bosque or Louis van Gaal, he named former Valencia boss Koeman.
United great Wayne Rooney (L) was deployed by Mata in attack with Villa and Didier Drogba
More surprisingly, the Spaniard named Ronald Koeman as manager of his fantasy side
‘This might surprise a few people, but I owe so much to him,’ Mata explained.
‘When I was 19, I was having a difficult moment at Valencia and not playing very much. He saw me in training once, took me aside and said: “I think you can play, so keep doing what you’re doing. Play with confidence – I’ve got faith in you and want you to express yourself.”
‘Koeman was the first manager to trust me in professional football, even though there were other more experienced players in my position, like Vicente.’