With the 25-year-old Spanish playmaker joining Manchester United from Chelsea in a club-record £37.1 million deal, we look at some of his top moments before the transfer
Moving on from bad puns, David Moyes's capture of the 25-year-old Spanish playmaker from Chelsea is easily the biggest transfer in the January window so far. The former Real Madrid B and Valencia man has enjoyed some illustrious moments in his playing career so far, while also showing what a nice person he is off the pitch. Goal Singapore takes you through five of the best.
|5. Uefa Under-21 Golden Player Award Winner
|Having been a part of the 2010 Fifa World Cup-winning squad with Spain, Mata went back to playing for the Under-21 side in the 2011 Uefa European Under-21 Football Championships in Denmark.
As the captain, he led the team to consecutive victories over England, Czech Republic and Ukraine in the group stages before dispatching Belarus in the semi-final and Switzerland in the final.
Over the five matches that he played in that tournament, he managed to conjure two goals, two assists, was awarded man-of-the-match once and the Bronze Boot as the third highest goal-scorer. Oh, and he was nominated in the Team of the Tournament as well.
Having been such an influential figure, his greatest recognition in the tournament came when he was awarded the U21 Golden Player award, joining a prestigious group of footballers who have also won the accolade, including Rudi Voller, Laurent Blanc, Davor Suker, Luis Figo, Fabio Cannavaro and Andrea Pirlo.
|4. Man of the Match in FA Cup final
|In the 131st FA Cup final against Liverpool on 5 May 2012, Chelsea had a fantastic opportunity to cap a turbulent season with some silverware - and they duly obliged.
The Blues won the game 2-1 with goals from Ramires and Didier Drogba, despite Andy Carroll scoring a consolation for the Reds.
With the likes of Drogba, Petr Cech, Ashley Cole, John Terry and Frank Lampard all playing for Chelsea, it was Mata who was awarded the Man-of-the-Match award in his maiden final for the English side.
Drogba might have been the hero with his match-winning goal, but there was no denying that Mata was the chief architect of the evening. The Spaniard expertly delivered the ball to Ramires to fire the opening goal and was a menace to the Reds throughout the game, torturing them with his skill and artistry.
The win was a significant one for Mata, as it was his first trophy with Chelsea. The win eventually paved way for even more glorious achievements as the Spaniard was involved in the club's triumph in Europe (See No.1).
|3. Scoring in the Euro 2012 final
|Spain, as we all know, has a squad that is bursting with talent. The country has won all the major titles in recent years, including the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championships in 2008 and 2012.
Euro 2012 was the most special one for Mata, as he scored the fourth and final goal against Italy in the final after coming on as a second half substitute. The 25-year-old did not get as much playing time as he would have wanted in the tournament, conisdering the wide array of talent in the national team, but he made full use of his opportunities as they came along.
His headed goal against Italy meant that Spain's 4-0 win was the widest margin of victory in any European Championship final. It will definitely go down as one of the most memorable ones he has scored in his career.
|2. Real Oviedo's saviour
|When Real Oviedo, a side which plays in the third tier of the Spanish leagues, were under threat of going out of business late in 2012, Mata and a couple of other Spanish footballers came to their rescue.
The Asturias side - the club where Mata first began his football career - were in a desperate financial state and were about to be declared bankrupt had they not been able to raise €2 million within a fortnight.
Admirably, in stepped Mata along with Arsenal's Santi Cazorla and Swansea's Michu, who all teamed up to save the club from shutting down by buying shares in the club.
Mata's determination to repay the club that helped him develop the player he is today has ensured that other young Spaniards who were in the same position he was in his early years will also be given the an opportunity to rise up the ranks to become part of the Spanish elite.
|1. Two-time Chelsea Player of the Year
|In the two seasons that Mata played for Chelsea, he won the Chelsea Player of the Year award both times. Such an achievement showed how highly he was valued by the club, his teammates and fans for his consistent contribution to the team.
From scoring on his debut against Norwich City in August 2011, he made a telling contribution to the team in his first season with the club. He helped the team to win the FA Cup in a Man-of-the-Match performance (see No.4) as well as making a telling contribution in their Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich, where his corner kick was met by Didier Drogba to head in the equalising goal. The Blues eventually lifted their first ever European trophy after beating the German side on penalties. He ended the Premier League season with 13 assists, the second highest in the league, and six goals.
His second season was just as good. Mata scored 12 goals and made 12 assists in the Premier League, including important strikes against Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton, helping the Blues to finish in third place. He capped another fine season with another assist in a European final, this time in the Europa League against Benefica, where Branislav Ivanovic scored from Mata's corner in injury time.
In truth, the two Player of the Year awards he received from the Blues were the least he deserved after his stellar contributions to the team. Mata will hope to replicate such form at Old Trafford.