In a fortnight’s time, Juan Mata will reach the fifth anniversary of him first signing for Manchester United.
Every week he publishes a blog for the fans, his dad has bought and runs a Spanish restaurant on Deansgate and he likes to hang out in the Northern Quarter.
Mata has reflected on his relationship with the fans and why he thinks our supporters are special.
When I finished my first half season here, because I came in January, we finished seventh in the league. Not good. We always do a lap of honour and I was very scared of how this would end up with the fans feeling normal frustration, so I wasn’t sure. But we did the lap and I will always remember that strength, that passion, that support that I felt from the fans, telling us that next year we’ll be better and they’re behind us. I got goosebumps. It’s something that struck me from the first moment, that, wow, these supporters are something really special. Even when finishing seventh, a position that Manchester United should never finish, they were supporting us and that’s something I’ll never forget.
Football without fans means nothing. We shouldn’t forget how important they are. We are football players on the stage of this amazing sport, but without them and their passion and love for the club, we wouldn’t be where we are. We should be grateful and respectful to them and we should try to do things to connect with them. After the games, before the games, at the training ground, we always try to do things for them because it takes just a little bit of our time but makes a big difference to them. Football without them would mean nothing, so we have to have them as the priority. Manchester United fans are very, very special.
I love it in Manchester. I’m very happy. I’ve been here for five years and every day I find new things that make me love Manchester even more. I’m feeling proud to belong to this fantastic club. I feel privileged and lucky.
Made in Manchester is available for just £5. It includes 30 articles from the country's best football writers about graduates from the Manchester United academy. Everyone who buys a copy enters a competition to win the new home shirt. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.