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Pre Charlton | Max Mata

28 September 2023


Pre Charlton | Max Mata

28 September 2023

Striker Max Mata met with the press ahead of Saturday's game against Charlton Athletic.

The 23-year-old joined Salop in the summer, halfway through his season at Sligo Rovers where he had scored 11 goals in 23 games.

After three weeks of waiting for a Visa and work permits, Max has now started the last three games and is now working hard to get his first Salop goal.

A New Zealand national, Max jets off on international duty in a couple of weeks for games against DR Congo and Australia in Europe.

The striker discussed all of the above as well as how he's finding life in Shropshire, recent form and working alongside Dan Udoh.

On how he's settled in:

"I'm enjoying it here. It's really nice.

"The lads are really welcoming and everyone in and around the club is very welcoming and helping me to settle in as best I can."

On the long time it took to get his work permits:

"That was difficult but that was something that I think was probably a new process for the club and I think a lot of it was out of our control as well.

"I was trying to prepare myself for any outcome whether that be I wake up and they tell me I'm available or whether I would be waiting months.

"So that was a difficult time period as it came and I think the club did quite well to get it done when they did.

"The positives I took from it were that I had a little bit of time to settle in with the team, with the coaches, the new style of play and everything. It was a little more comfortable for me to make the transition from training to the games."

On if it was always a dream to play in England:

"I guess it was. It wasn't on the front of my mind for my whole career but I knew it would be quite a prestigious place to go and play.

"Once the opportunity presented itself, I didn't have to think twice before saying yes."

On how he's finding it so far:

"It's a whole new experience but I'm really enjoying it. I feel like I've been learning a lot every single day, learning the league as well, it's a different type of league to what I'm used to.

"We play a lot of different teams whereas in the league I just came from, there are only 10 teams so you're playing the same teams every couple of weeks.

"Whereas here it's always a new opposition and new players and so on and so on.

"But overall I'm really enjoying the experience."

On the first half of his season with Sligo Rovers:

"I was enjoying the season a lot there.

"It was a difficult season, to be honest, because we were underachieving - that's what we believed - but it was bittersweet because I was also scoring goals and doing my job very well. 

"It was a difficult one to manage but overall it was more positives than negatives."

On how to approach the Charlton game given the recent form and the lack of goals:

"It's an interesting question because I think the main thing we need to focus on is that we keep doing the same things that you do every week to get in the right positions, to put the right passes in and everything like that and over time.

"The more you do it and the more chances you create, the more likely you are to score.

"I believe that's what it's about.

"We have some very good players in the team, not just strikers who can score we've got players all over the pitch who can score.

"If we continue to put attacking pressure on teams then it's only a matter of time before one goes in.

"I'm a big believer that once one goes in, the rest will flow."

On playing with Dan Udoh:

"I really enjoy playing with Dan. He's also an amazing character, he's an important man in the dressing room.

"He's a leader and I think the way that we play compliments each other on the pitch.

"I'm really enjoying it so far."

On his call-up to the New Zealand national team:

"I've always said that it's the most precious part about being a professional footballer, getting to represent your country, no matter where you're from.

"So yeah, I'm really excited and happy that that time has come around again and I get to put on the fern again as we call it.

"Two games this time. The first game is in Spain when we play DR Congo and the second will be in London when we play against our arch-rivals Australia!

"It's a rivalry so even when they're friendlies, there's always a little bit of something behind it.

"It's nice that even though it is a friendly, it's going to be treated like it's a World Cup match, so that's the nice part about it."

On international football in New Zealand:

"It's a difficult one for us because we don't play many competition games.

"Every window we can, we try and fill it with friendly matches which is a lot better than it was in the past.

"It used to be that the national team only really came together every couple of years for the World Cup qualifiers but now it's common to be in most windows and playing football together.

"That's only going to be beneficial to us in the long run. We have a young squad so there are a lot of players in and around the squad that will be around for many years to come."

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