By 90Min
August 15, 2018

Manchester United midfielder and fan favourite Juan Mata has named Old Trafford icon Eric Cantona as the former player he would most like to have played alongside, while his favourite moments in a United shirt will also further endear him to supporters.

Cantona inspired United to the inaugural Premier League title in 1992/93, won six major honours in five years and is credited as a key mentor to the emerging 'Class of '92' stars that secured the club's continued dominance in English football for over a decade after his early retirement.

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Speaking to Republik of Mancunia for its annual charity season preview, Mata declared, "Eric Cantona [is the former United player I'd like to play alongside]. There is something really special about him and I would have loved to play with him. The King."

As for his personal favourite moments as a United player, one will stand out for fans, with Mata still holding very fond memories of the time he scored twice in a famous win over Liverpool at Anfield in March 2015, including a stunning overhead kick.

Steven Gerrard was sent off 38 seconds after coming on as a half-time substitute in the game.

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"It is an incredible feeling to be a Red and I am very proud to represent this great club," Mata, always humble and grateful for his career, commented.

"If I have to pick some important moments for me I would say the debut against Cardiff City, the game against Liverpool at Anfield where I scored a brace and the goal in the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace," he said.

Mata is due to be out of contract at the end of the season, meaning he could leave the club as a free agent. Little has been rumoured of an extension since a 12-month clause was triggered last season, although the latest gossip is linking him with a return to former club Valencia.

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The 30-year-old, who is not your typical footballer when it comes to off-field interest, has a very strong connection to Manchester, though, and would surely love the chance to stay.

"Manchester is a very creative city, full of life and I like to discover new places and visit different parts of the city," he explained. "My favourite area is Northern Quarter, with many bars with live music, coffee shops, galleries."

The full interview appears in the Republik of Mancunia 2018/19 season preview, available to buy for £6 and with all profits going to Trafford Macmillan Wellbeing Centre.

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