After Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure in 2009, Manchester United lost a world class player, one capable of being in a World XI or winning the Ballon D’or and leading the team by example. Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea checks all these boxes. Its a shame De Gea’s rise came after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. While the goalkeeper’s performance was on the up, the team around him was not performing at the same level.
See also: A day for goalkeepers!
De Gea joined from Athletico Madrid in 2011, a highly rated youngster, chosen by Ferguson to replace veteran dutch stopper Edwin Van Der Sar. Much like Cristiano Ronaldo before him, De Gea was signed as a promising young talent and molded by Manchester United into a world beater.
His career at Manchester United did not start in the best way with notable mistakes in the Community Shield against cross-town rivals Manchester City in his first game. More errors came against West Brom and Blackburn. Luckily, Sir Alex Ferguson brushed those mistakes aside as “a learning process” and trusted De Gea with the number one spot. After his first season at Old Trafford, De Gea was battle-hardened and defiant.
There have been doubts in the first season but I always had faith in my ability. The pressure at an elite club like United is huge but Ferguson just told me to do what I did at Atlético. You have to be as strong when things go wrong but I don’t get nervous. Mistakes are normal; everyone makes them. – David De Gea after a challenging first season at Old Trafford.
Since the 2013-2014 season, De Gea has won the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award (Manchester United’s player of the year award) a record four times. He also set records as the first goalkeeper to win the award and the first player to do so for three consecutive years. He has won everything except the Champions League trophy with the English club and is currently one of the rare players still at Manchester United who can claim to have won an English Premier League title.
Earlier this season, Manchester United and Watford offered fans, partisans and neutrals alike, one hell of a game in the Premier League, after which Ben Foster lavished his mancunian counterpart with praise. Watford might have taken all three points were it not for De Gea’s heroics.
He is the most natural goalie you will ever see. He is the Messi of goalkeeping. He does it all the time. It’s almost like he is not even bothered, either. It would be so nice to pull those saves off, get up and it’s almost like he just wants to go home. He is brilliant. A top goalie and, if any young goalie out there wants to learn how to be a goalkeeper, watch David de Gea. He is world class. Breathtaking. – Ben Foster on David De Gea
Goalkeepers rarely get recognition at the major awards due to forwards getting all the attention. Let’s keep in mind goalkeeping is a more risky position than offensive ones. One mistake from a goalkeeper could cost a team the game while an offensive player is allowed a much more favorable error rate. De Gea has consistently helped his team win games from the back by making breath taking saves and also keeping the error rate close to non-existent.
The contribution a player like De Gea provides to his team is tantamount to what Lionel Messi does for Barcelona or Ronaldo did for United and Madrid.
Seguid así David!
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Featured Image from flickr