The £23.5 million striker had singing lessons as a youngster and was a leading light in his school and church choirs.
His music teacher was so impressed with his voice he tried to persuade him to swap football for the stage.
Pop’s loss was football’s gain when Juan, who scored on his debut for the Blues on Saturday, decided against hanging up his boots. The pint-sized star, nicknamed Little Juan or Magic ankle in his native Spain, has so far managed to keep his secret talent under wraps from his new teammates.
But they are set for a surprise when he sings for them in keeping with a long-standing Stamford Bridge initiation ceremony.
All new arrivals at Chelsea have to stand up on a chair and sing a song of their choice to the rest of a team on their first away trip. Most opt for a rap or R&B number, although new boss Andre Villas-Boas baffled Blues stars recently by singing a traditional song in his native Portuguese.
An insider said: “Juan’s going to blow his new teammates away when they hear him. He’s got the voice of an angel. “He rarely sings outside of the shower nowadays but he still knows how to hit all the right notes.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if they change his nickname to Aled Jones afterwards, especially if he picks one of the numbers he used to sing in his school choir.”
Juan, 23, grew up in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo with his professional footballer dad of the same name, now his agent, mum Marta and older sister Paula who he counts as one of his closest confidants. He once confessed: “My sister is 18 months older than me and she was always by my side.
“She’s always been a great role model for me and we spent a lot of time together.
“We went to singing lessons for six years and because she is so creative, she was always inventing songs for me to sing. “Our teacher told my mum I should give up football and concentrate on singing.” Paula now works for a PR agency in Brighton and is expected to help
him adapt to his new life in London.
The other woman is his life is stunning girlfriend Lorena Martinez. Making headlines off the pitch is not part of his game. He dedicated his free time in Spain to studying for a long-distance degree in physical education and marketing.
As well as golf and tennis, his hobbies include going to the cinema and reading. Uncle Celso Alonso said: “He’s always got a book on his bedside table and I know he likes poetry.”
Mum Marta said: “He’s always been a normal, simple boy who sailed through his exams year after year at school. He’s never been a show-off with his money.”
Another uncle, Luis Morilla, added: “I remember him inviting me to a Nike training camp in Andorra and saying he felt embarrassed about standing up in front of the children there because he was sure they weren’t going to be interested in him.
“He likes to go so unnoticed that when he thought about buying a car, he ruled out a Mercedes because he thought they were too extravagant.” Mata came on as a second-half substitute at Stamford Bridge and scored in injury time to help Chelsea defeat Norwich City 3-1.
BY GERARD COUZENS (Irish Examiner)