David de Gea Quintana, Manchester United’s Number 1 since he joined as a skinny 20-year old from Atletico Madrid, has now well and truly become the world’s Number 1 goalkeeper. His transformation from a skinny Spanish kid being bullied by rough strikers and hard men from set pieces to undisputedly becoming the best in the world has been nothing short of unbelievable. There is a pretty fascinating story on how De Gea was snapped up by Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson in 2011.
In a column for the English publication, The Daily Mail, former Manchester United goalkeeping coach Eric Steele had revealed that Sir Alex Ferguson only missed two games during his 27-year reign at Old Trafford.
“I can only remember Sir Alex Ferguson missing two United matches. He missed a Manchester derby in 2000 for his son’s wedding. The other time? To scout the brilliant David de Gea. I was convinced that a 19-year-old De Gea was the right man to replace the retiring Edwin Van der Sar. I showed a three-minute DVD compilation to Sir Alex and then we went to watch him play for Atletico Madrid at Valencia on the night United played Scunthorpe in the League Cup.”, Steele revealed.
It was well worth it, wasn’t it?
Having won the Matt Busby Player of the Year award for four times in five years, he has been by far and away United’s best performer and the fact that it is a goalkeeper shows how United haven’t exactly done much of note since Sir Alex retired. Funnily enough, Jose Mourinho in his first season as Manchester United manager stated, “I think when a goalkeeper is a player of the season, it’s because something is wrong. Season after season, if the goalkeeper is player of the season, it means that something is wrong.”
It is very easy to forget that David De Gea could have been lifting his 3rd Champions League title in a row last Saturday with the Los Blancos. In the summer of 2015, after prolonged speculation over Real Madrid making a move for De Gea, on the final day of the transfer window, they agreed a cash plus player deal (Keylor Navas). Written in the stars, as you may call it, the fax machine apparently didn’t pass on the necessary documents and Real Madrid couldn’t complete the deal in time and eventually, De Gea stayed. De Gea must be given a lot of credit in that he buckled down and hasn’t tried to force a move ever since and is likely to sign a long-term contract with Manchester United after the World Cup if rumours are to be believed.
David De Gea’s improvement has been increased multifold in the last few years and as he approaches the peak age for a goalkeeper he seems to constantly improve year on year. In the game against Arsenal at the Emirates where Manchester United won 3-1, De Gea made a record 14 saves in the game – it equaled the record of most saves in a single Premier league match. His performance that day left many speechless and the double save off Alexandre Lacazette and Alexis Sanchez is one of the greatest saves you will see from a goalkeeper. There was also the save from Joel Matip’s shot in the game against Liverpool at Anfield early in the season which was incredible. De Gea has had many iconic performances for Manchester United over the years and it’s not even controversial to say that in some of the years in the post-Fergie era, United wouldn’t have been anything more than a mid table side without their super Spaniard in goal.
With Antonio Valencia well into his 30s and Michael Carrick having retired to join Mourinho’s coaching staff, the captaincy of the club is up for grabs. There really aren’t many options, as such, except probably Paul Pogba and David De Gea. De Gea has been at United for longer and his performances have been at such an elite level that it is easy to argue that De Gea deserves the captaincy over anyone else. It could also definitely convince him to ply his trade at United for years to come which would be outstanding news for United in the long term.
While the word legend is thrown around quite easily nowadays, if David De Gea indeed does sign a new long-term contract and stays at United through the peak years of his career, it will be hard to dispute the fact that he will go down as a proper Manchester United legend. In fact, he could even surpass Peter Schmeichel, who by many is considered as the greatest Manchester United goalkeeper of all time, should United be more successful in terms of competing for the biggest honours and they have shown definite signs of improvement under Jose Mourinho. Mourinho hasn’t exactly set the world alight since joining United and the job he has done in the two years in charge has been just about par. With superb talents like Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku, it is entirely upto Mourinho to get the best out of his players and ensure that there is no doubt in De Gea’s mind than he has made a right decision to stay at United. After all, the best deserve the best, don’t they?
David De Gea 17/18. Best GK in the world. pic.twitter.com/B8g3v3oP6a
— José (@MourinhoMindset) May 24, 2018
Image credits – Getty Images
Compilation video via Twitter
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