Manchester United‘s Juan Mata granted the wish of a number of youngsters from Mumbai of visiting Old Trafford for the first time this week.
Mata visited one of the slums in India’s largest city earlier this year as part of the charity work he does with the Oscar Foundation, which aims to help underprivileged children through football.
The United midfielder uploaded a number of images on social media on Thursday of him surrounded by a number of the children who had been flown to Manchester to experience the Theatre of Dreams.
Mata poses with a number of children inside Manchester United’s home dressing room
He shared various images on social media via his account and the Oscar Foundation
The 29-year-old gave them a guided tour of the stadium and took selfies in the home dressing room, as well as introducing them to United team-mates Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera.
He also used the visit as a chance to unveil an exhibition that featured a number of photographs that were taken of the footballer and the children while in India.
While in Mumbai he participated in a football and life skills session and helped to support an education class.
He also unveiled an exhibition at Old Trafford of photos that were taken of him in Mumbai
Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera both got involved with the visit on Thursday
He was also joined by his partner Evelina Kampf as he took part in the Football3 Festival.
‘The 2 days spent with OSCAR, seeing what you do for your community, has been an experience I will never forget,’ Mata said.
‘You are helping so many children; they are learning a lot and becoming better people. The warm welcome we got from them was priceless. It is my first time to India but I don’t think it’s going to be my last because I have really enjoyed it!’
He had previously appealed to his fellow professionals, asking them to commit one per cent of their wages to the new Common Goal project.
The youngsters with the Oscar Foundation pose in front of the Hotel Football building
Mata was happy to take them pitchside for photographs at the Theatre of Dreams
They all crammed into a photo as Mata gave them an all access tour of Old Trafford
The response from Premier League players – whose clubs have in recent weeks been fighting over billion pound TV rights deals – was poor.
Sportsmail reported last week that just one Premier League player had made a commitment to Common Goal.
Arsenal’s Serge Gnabry, who is on loan at Hoffenheim, was the fifth player other than Mata himself to get involved with the initiative.
Along with Gnabry, Mats Hummels, Giorgio Chiellini and US women’s players Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe all pledged one per cent of their wages.
Serge Gnabry – on loan at Hoffenheim from Arsenal – has signed up to the initiative
Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini wrote to Mata to show his support for the initiative
SPREADING THE LOVE TO THE LESS FORTUNATE…
So far, only five players have joined Juan Mata’s initiative.
Juventus defender Chiellini has already congratulated Mata on the work he has done. He explained in an email in August how fond he was of the idea.
He wrote: ‘Hello. I’m Giorgio Chiellini, play of Juventus. I’m interested to support your program (sic) and I would like to give my congratulations to Juan Mata for finding the time and having the idea to support through football people less luck than us’, Chiellini told Common Goal.
‘I’m not interested in advertising, I want only to support a brilliant project. Sorry about my English. I try to make the best as possible. I wait for your answer about complete the registration. Bye, Giorgio.’
Sportsmail has also reported that those working with him have been pleasantly surprised by the way supporters and media have responded to his call for help. ‘We’ve had 1,000 headlines,’ said a source.
‘There’s been a real lack of cynicism. People have told us it has made them proud of their sport again.’ If only the players saw it that way. It took a 22-year-old to comprehend the huge value of a moderate gesture.
‘One per cent is not a big figure,’ said Gnabry. ‘But it can make a huge difference if we commit to it as a team.’