Manchester United’s hero from the weekend David De Gea has admitted he considered leaving the club during a difficult first season at Old Trafford.
The 23-year-old received praise for his performance in United’s 2-1 against Everton on Sunday, after pulling off a string of world-class saves.
But this wasn’t always the case as following his £18million move from Atletico Madrid in 2011 he suffered intense criticism due to a series of high-profile errors.
Now United’s undisputed first-choice, De Gea is able to take the positives from his nightmare start in English football.
“It’s difficult when you get a lot of criticism like I did. But I kept strong and I always tried to remain positive,” said the Spanish international.
“Those early days were difficult for me and my family but when you play for a big club like Manchester United [being criticised] is normal when you don’t play well.
“When you have bad moments you have to improve. You have to become stronger to deal with it and I believe I have become stronger. I am much better now.”
In his early days at the club, it’s understandable that a young player might struggle to come to terms with the demands of both the Premier League and living away from his family.
Nowadays though, it is difficult to imagine the Spanish keeper plying his trade anywhere else.
Sunday’s man of the match performance was the latest in a string of fine displays, which has seen De Gea establish himself as one of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers.
The former Atletico Madrid keeper has also broken into the Spain squad and is now pushing Iker Casillas for the starting spot.
De Gea credits Frans Hoek, the goalkeeping coach brought in by Louis van Gaal this summer, as one of the men responsible for his continuing good form.
“Frans Hoek has helped me a lot – we are working on trying to start moves from the goalkeeper,” said De Gea, whose distribution has improved just as much as his shot-stopping.
“Right now I think I’m playing the best football of my career. I’m ready for everything.”
Despite being just three years into his United career, the goalkeeper is one of the club’s longest serving players and is being relied on more and more to provide the leadership lost with the departures of Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic.
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