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.
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“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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