Mateta: "That’s why you play football"
Mainz forward hopes for “lots more goals” and loves the connection he has with the fans
Mainz were without a win for almost two months before Matchday 10, but Sunday’s 2-1 over SV Werder Bremen meant that the players and fans finally had a victory to celebrate. The player who seemed to enjoy the win most was Jean-Philippe Mateta, who was seen celebrating with the fans on the fences. The goalscorer, who gave Mainz their initial lead, was amazed by the commitment of the fans. “I cherish this connection with the fans so much,” explained the Frenchman. “Their enthusiasm, their excitement and their desire to win, it’s all amazing. I love these fans more than almost anything else. That’s why you play football. That’s what makes it worth it.”
He didn’t really know what he was doing when he was on the fences, explained the 21-year-old. It just happened “and then I somehow started singing”. During the game as well, the singing lifted and motivated him. The song that the ultras sing on the Lotto Rheinland-Pfalz-Tribüne, often in a continuous loop, means a lot to him. The lyrics, when translated, mean “no matter the league you’ll hear our songs cause Mainz will never be tamed. We’ve already been here one hundred years and you’ll always see our flags wave” and the Frenchman has really resonated with the song. “It’s great, I really like it when the fans sing,” he said in a conversation with media representatives after the game, quickly giving a rendition of his own version of the tune. Mateta has previously shown this attention to the fans in the 0-0 against Hertha BSC, when Jean-Philippe Gbamin had to receive treatment in the closing stages. Mateta utilitsed the break in play to get closer to the fans and join the singing by clapping in time and dancing in front of the main stand.
Calm in front of goal
The opening goal was the forward's second of the season, after the header he scored on Matchday 2 in the 1-0 win against Nürnberg. That time it was Aaron Martin who assisted him from the left flank, however, against Bremen, the ball came from the right through Daniel Borsinski. “I controlled the ball and just shot. The coach always says that being calm in front of goal is the most important thing. I kept that in mind and just put it into the net. It’s that easy sometimes. Previously in the match, the striker met a cross from Aaron Martin, although the effort clattered off the crossbar. On the whole, the team gave a strong performance, won balls well, pushed forward and made good runs. Sandro Schwarz had a long conversation with the players during the week. The Mainz coach told Mateta that he should believe in himself more, work harder and then the rewards will come. “This goal will do him well,” said Schwarz.
“It has been a good and important day today, for the team and for myself as well. We all went for it, prepared well and got the win. I hope that I can score many more goals,” said the goalscorer. I’m getting used to the team more and more and we’re constantly getting better. I think we will continue making good progress as a team.”
An ageing Kuhnert
Gbamin scored a second after the break, after getting on the end of an irresistible pass from Bosinski. “I saw the goal and went for it. The goal was important. We believed in our abilities and know we have quality,” said the 23-year-old, who had a few problems after an injury but is starting to have significant improvements in his form. “I’m very happy that I could help my team,” said Gbamin.
After the goal from Claudio Pizarro, there was a palpable tension in the stadium which had been controlled up until that point by Mainz. The tension seemed to affect the goalkeeping coach fairly strongly. “You alter your play in certain phases of the game and that can be stressful. I believe I am now around 90 years old due to the stress,” said Stephan Kuhnert, shaking his head on the way to the dressing room.