Manchester United goalkeeping coach Eric Steele has recently claimed when speaking to the Guardian that the criticism David De Gea has garnered during his time in England doesn’t faze the young Spaniard.
Steele claimed that the media’s panning of De Gea was ‘cresta cabeza’, Spanish for ‘quiff head’, similar to the English idiom ‘like water off a ducks back’.
The goalkeeping coach has worked closely with De Gea since his £18 million move from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2012, and knows the shy Spaniard better than most.
“Any criticism goes off that quiff,” he explained. “That is the great thing about him. He’s able to say: ‘Right, fine.’ He might have dark moments but he keeps them away from the training ground. If he is ever hurt, he doesn’t show it.”
22-year-old De Gea has been on the receiving end of a perceived media campaign against him, typified by the herd mentality shown by those in Fleet Street.
The criticism towards the Spaniard who many rate as the best young keeper on the planet has often been wrong, unjust and at times just plain silly.
Regular watchers of United failed to see the correlation between his performances on the pitch and what was written in the tabloid back pages, and it seemed inevitable he would be forced out of the English game after being repeatedly hounded and knocked for apparent weaknesses in his game.
However, former Newcastle and Peterborough goalkeeper Steele has backed the Spaniard to make the cut at Old Trafford.
“You bring a boy into the Premier League at 20,” he added. “It’s not easy. He’s learning in the toughest environment in the world.
“But the one thing he has is fantastic inner strength. We teach him that the calmest man on the field has to be the goalkeeper. And one of his great strengths is his calmness.
“There have been dark moments but he has his family close to him. Trust me, he’s very mature for his age. He’s had to be because you’re not just replacing a goalkeeper in Edwin, you’re replacing a legend.
“If you think about what David has been through, he has to have inner strength. He has dealt with it. And he’s such a likable lad. He hasn’t come in swearing and squeaking. He’s just got on with his job.”
Many saw his performance in his hometown of Madrid as the turning point in his United career as it is the first time he had gained widespread approval from those who write about the beautiful game. After pulling off some world-class saves, and looking genuinely brilliant for 90 minutes, it was good to see some nice headlines about De Gea. The future is certainly bright for him.