Player Profile: David De Gea – the Story so far…

The meteoric rise of David De Gea can be traced back to Madrid, his birthplace, and initial goalkeeping home. Fast forward nine years and he is now recognised as one of (if not the) world’s best goalkeepers. So quick, nimble and intelligent, his cat-like reflexes allow him to dominate almost every situation he is faced with. How did this happen? A combination of talent and hard work. You ask any coach or scout (both former and current) they will tell you the same, De Gea was destined for the top.

Long before Manchester United recognised De Gea would be the man they would entrust the hallowed Old Trafford goalpost with, a gangly 13-year-old would be brought into the Atletico Madrid ranks. Atletico has a rich history of goalkeepers and De Gea joined the club with a bright future. He would only have to wait until 30th September 2009 when; at 18 years old, he made his debut in the UEFA Europa League. This touch of luck continued as he made his full La Liga debut just three days after.

A string of fine performances would see the young man cement his place in between the goalposts but also earn plaudits from top clubs around Europe. Plaudits were not the only thing young De Gea was earning however as he picked up the Europa League in his first full season in goal for Atletico beating Fulham in the process. The Super Cup in 2010 would follow this success as De Gea put clubs on notice. So much so that it is famously noted that the great Sir Alex Ferguson only ever missed two matches in his United career. One was for his son’s wedding and the other was to watch De Gea. In Sir Alex the autobiography he stated:

Eric and I went out to watch him (De Gea) against Valencia away, and the things he’d been speaking about – his agility, his confidence, his speed – were evident.”

Having originally wanted Manual Neuer to replace the seemingly irreplaceable Edwin van der Sar, Sir Alex was more than convinced to invest the £20 million it would take to pry De Gea from Atletico Madrid. It would be brash to say that the rest was history as De Gea suffered early struggles in his first season at the Club. His FA Community Shield and opening day mistakes against Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion respectively only preceded a turbulent few months. This culminated in him being dropped from the starting XI by Sir Alex after a costly error against Blackburn Rovers.

However, Sir Alex never lost faith and made sure that Eric Steele devoted his time and effort into making De Gea develop physically and mentally with extra gym sessions and work on his core De Gea gained the confidence to believe he was a Manchester United player. Many claim that the turning point was the near unbelievable stoppage-time save from a Juan Mata free kick that rescued a point in the incredible 3-3 game at Stamford Bridge. Since then positives have heavily outweighed the negatives and De Gea’s accolades speak for themselves.

A Premier League medal with United has been accompanied by: an FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League title. Not to mention him being a three-time Player of the Year for Manchester United. Considering our rich history of legends and fantastic attacking players this is a feat that may never be matched again in modern history by a goalkeeper. No better story encapsulates the importance of De Gea than a game against West Ham at the Boleyn Ground in April 2013.

The game was rather dull in all honesty and Manchester United had already secured their 20th league title. However, there was an incident involving Andy Carroll and De Gea in which the big Geordie launched himself towards De Gea in an attempt to intimidate him more than he wanted to win the ball. Our Spanish number one merely took the ridiculous cheap shot and got on with it after minor treatment. He was finally the Man that Sir Alex saw when he was signed by Manchester United and has not looked back since then. Goalkeeper coach Eric Steele once said in an interview with the Guardian:

“Calmness, composure and inner strength. Nothing fazes him. Playing in front of 76,000? No problem. Very few possess that.”

Watching his ability to brush aside the interest in him by Real Madrid that almost culminated in him moving to los blancos was a testament to the man himself. Incredible performance after incredible performance would follow and De Gea himself raved about the comfort that he felt in between the goalposts at Old Trafford. This is evident as he is now the undisputed Spanish number one and one of United’s genuine world-class players. From the outside looking in, it seems that the Old Trafford faithful love De Gea and he truly loves them back. It is a match made in heaven.

Written by Oscar Quaye

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