MATA: LET'S MAKE IT GREAT

Player of the Year Juan Mata is hoping a good season for him can become a great one for the club in Munich on Saturday.

The Spanish playmaker, new to London last summer, is hoping he can make history as a Chelsea player and help us become the first club from the capital to lift the European Cup when we meet Bayern at the weekend.

The game will bring down the curtain on a debut season in English football that has seen Mata become the first player since Ruud Gullit in 1996 to be named our best over the course of their first year in blue. It is an accolade not lost on the 24-year-old.

'I feel very happy, proud and grateful to all the people that voted for me for the award. For me it is very good news, in my first year, to achieve this award,' he says. 'Ruud Gullit is a big name, a legend in football, so I am very proud of winning here like he did in his first year.

'I always had confidence in myself but never expected to do this in my first season, to play a lot of games and to win the FA Cup. We still have to play in the Champions League Final, and it is a very special season for me.

'When you are new in a dressing room, in a country, it is important for people to help you, and the team did that, all the players. We have a very good dressing room and that's why I had the capacity to adapt quickly.'

Mata with Chelsea team-mates

It is a season in which the former Valencia player has been leant on heavily by those around him. He was the Premier League's top chance creator, and prior to our 4-1 defeat at Liverpool a week ago, Mata had not missed a Chelsea game since late October, a run of 44 games, yet he has explained tiredness is of no concern to him, and if possible he would like to represent Spain not only at this summer's European Championships but also the Olympics when they come to London.

'I want to play, it would be an amazing season for me if we can win the Champions League, the European Championships and then the Olympics,' he smiles. 'Spain is one of the favourites in all the competitions, we are the holders in Europe, world champions, and we have to defend our title.'

It seems Mata's interest in the Olympics has been intensified by their presence in London, a city he has quickly learned to call home since arriving in England last August. His Facebook video of him discussing life here has become famous, and he is clearly enjoying life on the banks of the Thames.

'I like English culture and London, the club, the training ground, the Premier League,' he smiled. 'It is different from Spain, everything is different but I feel comfortable here.

'The game is different in its rhythm, tactics are different, and life here is a little bit more relaxed for a footballer.'

What has been the highlight of his first year in SW6?

Mata scores against Norwich

'I think there are two or three,' he offers. 'My first game against Norwich when I scored, I came off the bench. We were drawing, and in the end we won 3-1 and I scored. The second one is the FA Cup Final, my first trophy, and the third one was the awards evening.

'It has been a very difficult year, talking about the Premier League. We did not achieve the position we needed, that we deserved. We have to be fighting for the title, for the trophy, and we finished sixth, so it hasn't been an easy season but we have won one title and have the chance to win another one which would make it an amazing season. The Premier League wasn't good, but in the cups we can be happy.

'I never reached the later stages of the Champions League before, only the round of 16 with Valencia where we lost to Schalke last season.

'It is new for me and every player wants to reach this stage in the best competitions, and the Champions League Final is the most important game in Europe. Maybe you might play it once if you are lucky so I have to take advantage of it.'

Back in February, when we were 3-1 down at half-time in the tie against Napoli, few would have believed we would be in Munich this coming weekend.

'Maybe it could be our destiny this year,' shrugs Mata when it is put to him. 'The second leg against Napoli was very important for us. It can always be important to score an away goal and at that time I was so happy to score for us, but we conceded three goals and were very disappointed. Then we showed in the home game that we never give up.'

Mata scores at Napoli

Between those two games, Roberto Di Matteo took the reins from Andre Villas-Boas, a change that reinvigorated our campaign.

'It is always bad news to change manager,' Mata says. 'If you do this it is because things are wrong or not working.

'Andre was very important for me to come here. He talked to me before I signed, talked to me about Chelsea and about his style of football. He was very important and a very good person, I am so grateful to him.

'After he left, Robbie took over and he has blue blood. He is a true Chelsea boy and knows the club inside and out. He changed a few things about tactics and confidence, but I tried to give my best with both of them, so the only change for me was my position.

'I like to play where I am now, as the number 10, because I like to look for the gaps and find spaces, you say in England to pull the strings, and that is what I try to do.'

Standing in the way of a first Chelsea Champions League success are Bayern Munich, a side the attack-minded Mata admires.

'I have watched a lot of games from the Champions League and Bundesliga, and they are not shy, they are very brave and attacking,' he says. 'It doesn't matter who they are playing, they kept possession against Real Madrid and their full-backs are always helping to attack with Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben. Mario Gomez can shoot with both feet, and they are at home, but I think we will have our chances to win.'

If the past nine months are anything to go by, at least some of those opportunities are likely to originate from Juan Mata's left foot.