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Unread 01-01-2018, 10:20 AM
fred tissue
Default The Guardian footballer of the year 2017: Juan Mata

Manchester United midfielder’s Common Goal project, in which players and managers donate 1% of their salary to charity, makes him a worthy recipient

The Guardian Footballer of the Year is an award given to a player who has done something truly remarkable, whether by overcoming adversity, helping others or setting a sporting example by acting with exceptional honesty. The inaugural winner was Fabio Pisacane in 2016

Each time you meet Juan Mata it’s a surprise how small he appears in person. You never expect a giant of a man to be only 5ft 7in tall, and to cut such a slight figure or to flash a warm smile, but the Guardian’s Footballer of the Year for 2017 has always made a habit of confounding expectations about himself and the game he loves.

Related: The Guardian’s inaugural Footballer of the Year: Cagliari’s Fabio Pisacane

Mats Hummels

Being a professional footballer means you have a responsibility to think of others who don’t have the same opportunities

Related: Juan Mata: ‘People underestimate football. It gives hope to so many people’

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