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Mata uses tapas to describe teammates

Likes Rooney to 'broken eggs'

CNN  — 

From tasty tapas to sublime seafood, Spanish cuisine suits all tastes, but if he could describe himself as a dish from his native Spain, Manchester United star Juan Mata would opt for the humble tortilla.

The 29-year-old Mata likens himself to the potato omelette dish because it is “compact.”

But how would he describe teammates such as Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera?

Speaking to CNN Sport on May 12, Mata guided us through 10 favorite Spanish dishes and compared them to past or current colleagues at his restaurant Tapeo & Wine in Manchester.

‘Smart and elegant’

The former Valencia star kicked off with paella, a speciality of the region, and picked his former captain David Albelda.

He said Galician octopus (pulpo a la Gallega) made him think of Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas, who is “a great player” and “a great friend from the national team.”

He suggested United midfielder Michael Carrick would be ham croquettes (croquetas de jamon).

“We are speaking here about a player that is liked by everyone,” said Mata.

“We could speak about Michael Carrick, a great player, great human being, smart and elegant both off and on the pitch.”

Mata has scored 10 goals this season for United.


Mata picked United goalkeeper David de Gea for fried squid (calamares) and likened fellow Spaniard Herrera to the dish patatas bravas, or brave potatoes.

“Spicy, right?” said Mata. “Ander Herrera is very funny, always joking and pranking everyone so probably him.

“Obviously, he’s Spanish and he’s a bit spicy sometimes the way he plays so he will fit.”

For United and England captain Rooney, Mata proposed the dish huevos rotos, or broken eggs.

“We could speak about a complete player because that’s a complete dish,” said Mata. “So we could speak, for example, about Wayne Rooney.

“He is a very complete striker, can play in the midfield, can scores goals, he can pass, he runs a lot, he defends well.

“For me he’s a great friend and a great player and one of the most complete players I have played with.”

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Mata compared Rooney to broken eggs because it is a complete meal and he is a "complete player."

‘Aged, classic’

Mata went on to compare United’s Swedish striker Ibrahimovic to chargrilled sirloin steak (lomo de buey) because he is “aged, classic, very powerful and strong … very experienced, a very successful player, lots of character and a lot of passion for everything he does.

“He’s a great player to play with and could fit that dish.”

For lubina, or sea bass, Mata plumped for a trio of United defenders.

“Lubina, wolf of the sea – we’re talking here about a loud player, sometimes aggressive, very intensive in everything he does. It comes to my mind for example Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly, very strong defenders.”

And to finish, Mata proposed Man Utd’s Dutch midfielder Daley Blind as churros, the fried dough pastry treats.

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“He’s a great player, he’s got the quality, he’s left footed, he’s smart the way he plays, he’s a sweet guy so he could fit perfectly the churros.”