Juan Mata dedicated Manchester United’s hard-fought victory against Everton to Sir Bobby Charlton – a figure the Spaniard takes a lot of inspiration from, especially in times of adversity.
The 1966 World Cup winner is synonymous with the club’s style and success, having lived through triumph and tragedy during a 60-year period that has seen him go from ‘Busby Babe’ to board member.
United celebrated one of their favourite sons on Sunday, with heartfelt tributes reaching a crescendo when Old Trafford’s South Stand was renamed the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand just before kick-off against Everton.
It had looked like a frustrating United display may overshadow those tributes, only for Anthony Martial’s second-half strike to lift the mood and secure a 1-0 victory that keeps their Champions League chase on track.
“This game was special because of Sir Bobby Charlton,” midfielder Mata said.
“Ever since I arrived at this club I felt his support, and he gives you a calmness and positivity that are worthy of a great legend.
“He is a reference, someone who has proved with facts that you should never surrender; that, if you fight, you can get as far as you want no matter the obstacles that stand before you.
“In short, he represents all the values that define this club, and both in the past and the present he still is the ideal ambassador of what being a Red Devil means.
“One side of his Theatre of Dreams already bears his name, and reminds us players about his greatness when we step onto the pitch.
“Things like these make you realise, once again, how special this club is. Sir Bobby Charlton, no doubt, is a leading example to all of us.
“The game against Everton was neither easy nor spectacular, but I think we worked hard to win. Besides, we wanted to dedicate the three points to Sir Bobby, obviously!”