David Moyes told Juan Mata he needed a player like him at Old Trafford, six months into a difficult start to his Manchester United career.
Moyes took over from Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in the summer of 2013, inheriting a title-winning but ageing squad.
His start to life in the Old Trafford hotseat was difficult, though, with United sitting seventh in the table – where they would eventually finish that season – midway through January.
At that point, Mata joined the club from Chelsea, arriving for a then-club-record £37million.
The diminutive playmaker, who is currently among the longest-serving players at United, has now revealed his first social transaction with Moyes in 2014.
Juan Mata wrote in his book ‘Juan Mata: Suddenly A Footballer’, which is out on September 2: “It certainly had to be difficult to replace a figure like Sir Alex Ferguson, the most successful manager in football’s history. It was impossible, in fact.
“The first time I met David was seconds after coming out of a helicopter, as this is how I arrived at Manchester United’s AON Training Complex. Pretty cool, I know. Bond-style.
“He was waiting for us to land and welcomed me and my family with a big smile and these words: ‘Welcome to a fantastic club, a massive club. The biggest club there is.
“Then he took us to his office and we talked. ‘Juan, I know what type of player you are, I know what you can bring to the team. I need a player like you who can link the play.’
“When I arrived, late January, the campaign was already halfway gone and things were not going too well. We were seventh in the league. Results were not materialising and the atmosphere was not ideal.
“A few months later, after some more disappointing games, the club decided to part with Moyes and chose Ryan Giggs to look after the first team until the end of the season. The Moyes era had been much, much shorter than expected.”
Mata goes on to explain how Moyes kept his dignity and pride intact right to the very end of his 10-month stay.
“Even at his farewell, he showed integrity and said goodbye to us in a very classy way, shaking all our hands and looking us all in the eye, wishing us good luck for the future,” Mata writes.
“I made sure to thank him for bringing me here and wished him all the best.
“Again, I felt sorry for the man who was leaving, feeling partly responsible as every player does when a decision like this is made.”
Juan Mata is proud to support Common Goal which aims to unite the global football community in tackling the greatest social challenges of our time. He is giving 99 per cent of his proceeds from this book to this cause. Why 99 per cent? Read the book to find out . . . ‘Juan Mata: Suddenly A Footballer’ is on sale in all good bookshops from September 26th.