David De Gea: From Villain to Hero

After eight years at Manchester United, it’s safe to say that David de Gea has overcome his initial adversity to uncompromisingly evolve into arguably the greatest goalkeeper of his generation. He has completed the transformation from ridiculed to revered hero.
Sir Alex Ferguson confronted the daunting task of replacing the consistently reliable Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar upon his retirement in May 2010. The Scotsman elected the talented but inexperienced David De Gea as the next candidate to succeed him, but a British goalkeeping transfer record fee of £18.9 million generated a sense of scepticism around Old Trafford.

Spain National Team manager Vincente del Bosque described De Gea as “the future of the team” during his spell at Atletico Madrid, but his venture into the tumultuous world of the Premier League was a painstakingly contrasting challenge. Ferguson awarded De Gea his Premier League debut at just 20-years-old, and The Red Devils went onto narrowly defeat West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on the opening day of the 2011/12 season.

Shane Long equalised for The Baggies when his lifeless strike trickled under the hapless body of De Gea. He instantaneously came under scrutinising pressure, but Ferguson typically defended his new recruit by excusing his mistake as a “learning process.”

Ferguson’s devotion and unwavering support during his difficulties played a pivotal role in his development, but the Scotsman was eventually forced to displace him with second-choice goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard in January 2012. De Gea had been held partly accountable for conceding six goals in Manchester City’s famous 6-1 victory at Old Trafford and Manchester United’s despicable home defeat to Blackburn Rovers.

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This stage of his playing career proved to be his darkest chapter yet, but he appeared unperturbed by the criticism, and fearlessly continued his pursuit for acceptance and greatness at The Theatre of Dreams. He was called upon once again due to an injury to Lindegaard, and revived his reputation with a series of show stopping saves in an enthralling and memorable 3-3 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

De Gea portrayed a strongminded individual in the public eye, but later admitted he’d contemplated leaving England during his debut season. Fortunately, De Gea survived his troublesome introduction to the Premier League, and began to thrive once he’d established himself towards the end of the 2011/12 campaign. He failed to elude criticism once again during his second season, but responded in tremendous fashion to play a key role as Sir Alex Ferguson clinched his 13th Premier League title at the end of his final year.

Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement after a glistening and iconic 27-and-a-half year spell at Manchester United. De Gea would now have to survive without his father figure at the helm, and this marked the beginning of his ascent at Old Trafford. He’d enjoy a scintillating season in David Moyes’ solitary and forgettable term at United on an individual basis, but the team performance regressed significantly, as they slumped to a demoralizing 7th placed finish.

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Whereas Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van Der Sar guarded The Red Devils’ net in a far more successful team, David De Gea has performed majestically with a less convincing defence ahead of him over recent years. The aforementioned will be more fondly remembered due to their club achievements, but De Gea is equally, if not more talented on an individual basis compared to his predecessors.

He’s continuously received individual honours since his rise at Manchester United, including three Sir Matt Busby Player of the Season awards. He’s also been included in the PFA Premier League Team of the Season on four occasions and won four Match of the Day save of the season awards.

Real Madrid remain persistent in their attempts to lure De Gea to the Santiago Bernabeu and narrowly missed out on prizing him away in 2015. He’s now rumoured to be signing a new five-year deal at Old Trafford, and has amassed 89 clean sheets in 231 Premier League appearances during his seven-year spell with The Red Devils.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia in edging closer, and De Gea is backed to play as first-choice goalkeeper for the Spain National Team. He’s taken the crown from Iker Casillas, who became the first goalkeeper in history to win three successive major international tournaments, and will be able to showcase his quality in the most prestigious competition in world football. De Gea has relentlessly demonstrated an admirable amount of self-belief and driven himself to become a legendary figure.

NOW CHECK OUT FIVE OF THE BEST DAVID DE GEA SAVES

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