David De Gea has earned his plaudits this season in what has appeared to be a bit of a turnaround in his fortunes in English football with the British press appearing to warm to the 22-year-old keeper after a troubled start to his United career.
Many feared the Spaniard would be hounded out of English football thanks to the herd mentality of the media but De Gea has been proving critics wrong this campaign by ousting Anders Lindegaard and establishing himself as one of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers.
David De Gea recently caught up with Spanish online newspaper El Confidencial while away on his first senior international duty and spoke candidly about a variety of topics including Sir Alex Ferguson and his unconventional style of shot-stopping.
“You don’t see how he treats young players, and how he protects them – it helps a lot.”
De Gea also acknowledged the criticism he encountered during the early stages of his United career where his seemingly fragile build and supposed weakness at dealing with crosses and long-shots were often targeted by the opposition.
“I had been criticized, I did understand some but remained quiet. You have to get used to it,” he said.
De Gea is regarded by many as the best young goalkeeper in world football after a number of eye-catching displays for United, especially against reported admirers Real Madrid, but the player many consider to be Iker Casillas’ heir to the throne insists he is commited to United.
He continued: “I have a three year contract. I’m fine, very comfortable in one of the biggest clubs in the world. On the subject of Barcelona, there have been many names and at the moment there is Valdés. It is clear that Madrid is my city and I’d like to return someday, but I want to win many titles with United.”
One of the more interesting features of the former Atletico Madrid goalkeepers style of play his array of unorthodox saves with a spectacular stop to deny Chelsea’s Juan Mata a late winner in a recent F.A Cup match a prime example of the improvisation he utilizes.
“It is a resource,” De Gea said. “I worked hard on that aspect Athletic. It’s like a last chance to save the goal. On that occasion in the Bernabeu, I had no choice.
“The ball bounced and I had come to use my foot. With the Mata save, I used it as a last resort. I stuck my foot out and got it clear with the toe of my boot. It is a matter of survival.”
Many foreign players have struggled over the years due to the physicality and pace of the Premier League and the 22-year-old admitted that adapting was tough, but insists that he is improving with every game.
“Sure. You get to a new place, a team that you do not know in a much more physical league where the goalkeeper has to risk more and become stronger. After some hesitation, now I feel great, much more mature and more settled. I understood as I had to play in the Premiership and it was implemented.”
It is not often we get to hear from our #1 as he speaks very little English but it was particularly endearing to hear De Gea’s passion for United despite the purported interest of both Real Madrid and Barcelona.
And while the admiration the young Spaniard has for Ferguson is unsurprising, it is lovely to hear. Perhaps then, this is one of the few benefits of the international break.