Juan Mata has been at Manchester United for less than four months, but he has already developed a strong bond with other players and the fans.
So his tribute to three of the Red Devils’ departing veterans on social networking site Twitter is not just another ‘show’: it is genuine and comes from a person who has shown remarkable humility throughout his career.
The Spain international midfielder has posted his admiration and adulation of Ryan Giggs, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. While the former has retired from playing and will be the assistant manager for next season, the latter two will leave the club this summer.
What a pleasure it has been to play with them... Thanks for everything you've done for football and good luck! pic.twitter.com/joYRePJNi4— Juan Mata García (@juanmata8) May 20, 2014
Vidic made his decision to leave United back in February and will join Italian club Inter Milan. The 32-year-old Serbian joined the Red Devils from Spartak Moscow in 2006 and went on to establish himself as one of the best centre-backs in Europe.
The former Red Star Belgrade defender won the Premier League five times, the League Cup thrice and the Champions League once among other trophies. Under Sir Alex Ferguson, Vidic became one of the most well-known names in European football.
Vidic’s defensive partner Ferdinand also made a name for himself while at Old Trafford. The 35-year-old former England international joined United from Leeds United in 2002 and went on to win the league title six times, the League Cup twice and the Champions League on one occasion.
While Vidic and Ferdinand will continue to play elsewhere, Giggs has called time on his illustrious career. The most decorated man in English football with 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two Champions League trophies among others, the 40-year-old former Wales international winger will become Van Gaal’s number two next season.
It is truly the end of an era at Old Trafford, which means that it will be the start of a new one.
Over to you, Mata.