Juan Mata pens emotional open letter to Chelsea fans
Juan Mata left Chelsea as a two-time player of the year on Saturday night after the Blues sold him to Manchester United.
His departure from Stamford Bridge brought to an end a stellar two-and-a-half year stay for the Spain international who enjoyed a rich relationship with the club's fans.
The 25-year-old heads north as a Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup winner and despite heading to a club Chelsea fans consider as bitter rivals, he wrote a letter to them to explain the move.
Here, we pick out some of the choice quotes from his lengthy goodbye.
- Thanking the fans
"This letter is written from my heart, and first of all I would like to say that I will never forget all the affection given to me by the Chelsea fans. From the very first day until the last. With your support and affection I have grown up as a player and I have had an amazing time both on and off the pitch. I will always feel the gratitude towards you. Always. No words are enough to give back all the things I have received."
- On winning European trophies to being out of the first-team picture.
"There have been plenty of good moments: the FA Cup, my first trophy as a Blue; the immense happiness of winning titles for the first time in the club's history, such as that magical Champions League night in Munich and the Europa League... On the other hand, I have experienced some complicated situations from a personal point of view, mainly during the last six months."
- On why he accepted the move to Manchester.
"Thank you so much for the way you have treated me, you have been unbelievable. I hope you understand that after going through a complicated and, for me, new situation in the last few months, I believe this is the best choice in order to carry on with my football career and to keep enjoying this sport. Before last summer, my intention was to stay here for a long time; as long as the club wanted me to, and to keep winning trophies for Chelsea FC.
"However, as you all know, things changed after the pre-season. From feeling like an important player, I started to experience some difficult situations and I felt unable to help the team to the extent that I wanted and was used to. Obviously, I fully respect the circumstances."
- On those he played with.
"I thank all my former team-mates for these two and a half years and I wish them the best, personally and professionally, for the future. Of course I have been closer to some of them, but the most important thing is that my years in Chelsea have left me with great friends."
- On manager Jose Mourinho, who ultimately oversaw his exit.
"(Thanks) to Jose, for making me a stronger player, because in difficult moments, I have learnt to remain positive and to keep working hard. Lastly, I want to thank the club, and in particular its owner, Roman Abramovich, for trusting me and making an important investment when signing me."