By 90Min
November 08, 2017

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata has offered the perfect advice to young players everywhere by urging them not to take anything for granted and to enjoy football, which is a relatively short career, while it lasts.

Framed as a question about advice he would give to his teenage self if he could, Mata's answer to Inside United is applicable for every young player on the planet.

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"Just try to enjoy it, be professional - as I have been - take care of your body, because your body is your tool to perform at the good level for many years," he explained.

"I think it is so important that you don't take anything for granted. Wake up every day feeling lucky and privileged and go to training with the best motivation, because anything can change in one second. So don't taking anything for granted, even in football."

So often is the case that young talents go off the rails and fail to realise their vast potential, either because they do not take their career seriously enough or cannot cope with the demands.

Only recently, notorious Italian cult hero Antonio Cassano admitted that he 'ruined' himself after claiming he could have been on a par with five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi.

"I could've been playing on another planet, but I had this issue that I didn't like training and I wanted to eat the way I felt like at the time and I ruined myself," he said last month.

Ex-United starlet Ravel Morrison, a former team-mate of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard at youth level, is another notable example of a player who wasted their talent. The home-grown prodigy was loftily compared to Paul Scholes, but attitude problems restricted his potential.

There are also many cases of young players whose careers are changed or even ended by injury, sometimes in an instant. Luke Shaw has never been the same since his 2015 leg break and will hope that he can soon rediscover his best form before it is too late.

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