The mother of Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata has died after a battle with serious illness.
Spanish publication La Nueva Espana reported on Monday that Marta Garcia passed away on Monday after a battle against illness that had lasted for several months.
Mata was very close with his mother and previously described her as “undoubtedly a key figure in my life”.
The 32-year-old was absent from United’s squad for a number of weeks in late January and February, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saying little on the subject other than “he has been away for a little while”.
Mata discussed his close bond with his mum in his 2019 autobiography, Juan Mata: Suddenly A Footballer , in which he opened up on their “ritual” pre-match phone call.
The Spanish World Cup winner wrote: “My mother has always been more worried about my physical wellbeing during a match than the result.
“That’s why, even now, I always call her when I’m on the coach on the way to the stadium. Always.
“It’s a ritual that we both enjoy, and which is also an extra source of motivation for me. ‘Be careful, enjoy, shoot… and try not to get hurt,’ are always her words.
“Heaven knows how she would cope if I were, say, a free skier.
“But for all that she gets rather nervous during games, she still doesn’t miss a single one. She’s even gone so far as to send me text messages during a game.
“She’s fully aware of the fact that, obviously, I can’t see it, so I imagine that she does it as a kind of release mechanism for her worry and sometimes frustration.
“Whenever I had a knock, or I looked slightly injured during a game, the first message on my phone is hers. ‘Are you OK? Tell me something when you can.”
Marta also spoke of her relationship with her son in 2018, saying: “Juan does not like to be alone and for that reason we try to be with him as much as we can.
“He’s a very happy boy, and every time I see him I send him back with a suitcase full of things.”
United goalkeeper David de Gea sent his support to his teammate and compatriot, posting a picture on Twitter of him with Mata and adding a heart emoji.
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