Juan Mata named Footballer of the Year 2017 by The Guardian - and rightly so...
On the whole, 2017 wasn't *that* bad for Manchester United.
Sure, their league form was a bit patchy every now and then, but they did at least manage to pick up a couple of trophies. The second of those, the Europa League, was also enough to see them make a return to the Champions League.
But while things could've been much, much worse for United, even the most ardent of the club's supporters would be hard pressed to make a strong case for one of their players picking up one of the end of year awards.
Despite this, one of United's stars has picked up a Footballer of the Year award for 2017.
Juan Mata may not have been guaranteed a starting berth in Jose Mourinho's United side this year, but he's still been named Footballer of the Year by The Guardian. As you've probably gathered by now, this award doesn't necessarily recognise on-field achievements. Instead, it acknowledges a player who 'has done something truly remarkable, whether by overcoming adversity, helping others or setting a sporting example by acting with exceptional honesty'.
— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) January 1, 2018
This year, the Spaniard launched his Common Goal initiative, allowing himself and other professional footballers to donate 1% of their wages to global charities. The campaign has grown so that it's no longer just football players who have donated. Julian Nagelsmann, Hoffenheim's 30-year-old manager, became the first coach to join Common Goal in October; Aleksander Ceferin, the Uefa president, has also pledged 1% of his wage.
"Some of the best ideas are simple ones," Mata explained. "When it comes to football, the power of the game is incredible. Anyone who understands football will know why we are so hopeful and ambitious with Common Goal.”