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Juan Mata is donating 1% of his salary to charity

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What a man.

Manchester United v Sampdoria - International Champions Cup Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Juan Mata is a gift. He’s supremely talented, consistently productive, and endlessly lovable. He’s never quite been a perfect fit in the United team since he signed for the club over three years ago, but he has a permanent place in the hearts of the United faithful. Not just for the instant-legend-making winner at Anfield, or that time he literally glided, or even that first touch of his which can only be described as erotic. Mata is loved equally for who he appears to be off the pitch: bright, friendly, mad about sports, and generally that rare thing: an enormously successful footballer who isn’t a complete knobhead.

Today, Mata went a step further to cement himself as one of the good ‘uns by launching an initiative through which he will donate 1% of his salary to Common Goal - a fund that supports football charities around the globe.

Common Goal is run by Berlin-based NGO streetfootballworld, which has formed a network of over 120 football charities in 80 countries across the globe.

Mata has called on his fellow football players to follow his lead.

I’m asking my fellow professionals to join me in forming a Common Goal Starting XI. Together we can create a movement based on shared values that can become integral to the whole football industry — forever.

I am leading this effort, but I don’t want to be alone.

One of the first lessons I learned in football is that it takes a team to accomplish your dreams. We live by this mantra on the pitch, yet we don’t see it enough in the social space. Common Goal is creating a collaborative way for football to give back to society. It’s the most effective and sustainable way that football can deliver long-term social impact on a global scale. Football has the power to do this, but we need to act together.

The focus now is on contributions from players, but the the long-term goal is to unlock 1% of the entire football industry’s revenues for grassroots football charities that strengthen their communities through sport.

Top-level football has never been more cynical, and more out of touch with the average fan. Mata’s ground-breaking initiative is a reminder that there are some good people left in the game yet.

Who’s the nicest player in the Premier League? It’s you, Juan, Juan, Juan! It’s you, Juan, Juan!