Juan Mata has thanked Chelsea supporters for the ovation he was afforded at Stamford Bridge.
The Manchester United midfielder returned to west London with the Red Devils for the 1-1 draw with the Blues on Sunday.
Mata became a firm fans’ favourite during his time at Chelsea and lifted the Champions League trophy in Munich in 2012 as well as being named player of the year.
He fell out of favour following the appointment of Jose Mourinho but the SW6 crowd have not forgotten his contribution and gave him a warm reception at the weekend.
“It’s always special for me to play in Stamford Bridge,” Mata wrote on his blog.
“My feelings are different in a day like this, but once the referee blows the whistle for the kick-off, in my mind the only goal is to win, to give everything you have to help the team and to enjoy on the pitch.
“I have to say that I’m deeply grateful for the reception from the Chelsea fans and their applause when I was substituted. Moments like these ennoble football and it’s something you keep in your memory forever.”
Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United in pictures:
Mata stayed behind on the field to give every Chelsea player a hug after the game at the Bridge.
United were denied victory by a last-gasp Diego Costa goal, cancelling out Jesse Lingard’s opener, and Mata was disappointed not to head back to Manchester with a win.
“I had the feeling, at least on the pitch, that it was an attractive game for the fans,” he continued.
“We didn’t see more goals was thanks to the superb performance from both goalkeepers, but I want to highlight the team’s image.
“From the first minute we went for the victory and played good football, but unfortunately we let slip two points in the last few moments.
“It’s a pity, it would have been a very important step in this second half of the Premiership, but Chelsea pushed hard (as expected) to at least tie the game and they finally scored their goal.
“We are improving our game lately, and I’m sure this is the way to get a series of good results in the next few weeks. The team is playing with more determination and confidence, and we want to keep it this way.”