“Winning the World Cup was a fulfilled dream”

Photograph: Pablo García Sacristán 

It’s been a decade since Juan Mata lifted the World Cup in South Africa. He was only 22 on that day. “When the match ended we all ran crying to our families”.

On July 11, 2010, a goal from Iniesta in extra time against the Netherlands gave Spain the highest success in history. One of the players that went to hug Iniesta was Juan Mata, a member of that legendary team that today celebrates their 10th anniversary.

“Without a doubt it’s one of the most important moments in my career, if not the most”, said Juan. During those days he was a Valencia CF player that at only 22 was able to reach the sky in football terms. “The images that come to my head when I think of the World Cup are, in first place, the list of summoned players. When Vicente del Bosque made it public, I was at home with my Dad and Grandma. We started screaming and jumping… it was a dream fulfilled. The other image is the final, when the referee whistled the end of the match and we all went crying to our families on the stands. Those two moments and the winners tour in Madrid were unforgettable”, said the Manchester United player.

Mata debuted in the World Cup against Honduras on the second match of the first stage. “The feeling I had since the first moment was the privilege of being in the list of the best 23 players in Spain, perhaps the best generation in Spanish football”, he said. Casillas, Puyol, Ramos, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta, Silva, Villa… all the players were first level. A circumstance that didn’t affect the good atmosphere in the lockers. “The secret is that we were a family”, said the Asturian.

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Two years after the World Cup came the success of the Eurocup in Poland and Ukraine. Since then, the final stages of the major events haven’t ended well for Spain. Juan thinks Spain has potential to change this in the next tournaments. And he expects to be part of the new teams as well: “My ambition towards the national team remains intact”.

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