De Gea’s top five keepers: Man United star sheds light on his biggest inspirations

Spanish international David De Gea is one of the new guard of goalkeeper’s taking hold of the top spots in European football.

After a shaky start De Gea has established himself as Manchester United’s undisputed number one since his arrival from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

At just 24 years of age the keeper is already the possessor of one of the most coveted number one jerseys in world football, but who inspired him to reach these heights?

De Gea may go on to emulate the goalkeeping greats but here are the youngster’s top five keepers of all time.

5. Edwin van der Sar

Clubs: Ajax, Juventus, Fulham, Manchester United

De Gea told MUTV: “Edwin was one of the best. He was calm, good with his feet and he played some great games for Manchester United.”

After joining United from Fulham for around £2million in 2005, Van der Sar won the Premier League four times and the Champions League, for the second time in his career, during a six year spell.

Sir Alex Ferguson would later describe the Dutchman, who made 130 appearances for the Netherlands, as the club’s best keeper since Peter Schmeichel.

In addition to his match saving exploits throughout his 820 game club career Van der Sar scored once, a penalty for his first club, Ajax, against De Graafschap during the 1997/98 season.

4. Victor Valdes

Clubs: Barcelona

De Gea said: “I love him. He is a great keeper and a good person. I’ve worked him with a lot for the national team and he is a keeper who always plays really well with his feet.”

Having spent his entire career at Barcelona, Valdes was a feature of the side that reinvented football under club legend Pep Guardiola.

In 535 games for the club over 12 years the Spanish keeper has won everything in the game; he has won the Champions League on three occasions in addition to six La Liga crowns.

However, like De Gea, the 32-year-old has played second fiddle to Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas for the Spanish national team, making just 20 appearances.

3. Gianluigi Buffon

Clubs: Parma, Juventus

“He always played at the top level [of his game]. When you are a player sometimes you play well and sometimes you play bad but he always played at a good level in every match,” said De Gea.

Widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of all time, Buffon only makes it to number three on De Gea’s list.

The Juventus keeper is Italy’s record appearance maker with 145 appearances to date and was part of the 2006 World Cup winning side.

He joined Juventus from Parma for £32.5million in 2001, replacing Van der Sar as the Bianconeri’s first choice keeper, and is part of the side that has won back-to-back-to-back Serie A titles since 2011/12.

2. Iker Casillas

Clubs: Real Madrid

Talking to United’s TV channel, De Gea said: “He has helped me a lot. Always when I’m with the national team he speaks with me and helps me a lot. He is one of the best keepers I’ve ever seen in my life.”

A national hero, it is no surprise that Casillas makes De Gea’s top five. With over 150 caps for Spain, he captained the side to the European Championship in 2008 and 2012 as well as the World Cup in 2010.

He is only the third player, after Franz Beckenbauer and Didier Deschamps, to captain sides to victory in the Champions League as well as at the European Championships and World Cup.

Despite a recent drop in form, Casillas captained Madrid to La Decima as they beat local rivals Atletico 4-1 after extra time in the Champions League final last season.

1. Peter Schmeichel

Clubs: Gladsaxe Hero, Hvidovre, Brondby, Manchester United, Sporting Lisbon, Aston Villa, Manchester City

De Gea said: “He was an unbelievable goalkeeper, one of the best in the world. He was admired by everyone who watched him. I watched him a lot growing up; I enjoyed all his saves and there were so many it’s difficult to pick one out as the best.”

The Great Dane is arguably United’s greatest ever goalkeeper. After joining from Brondby in 1991 he was part of the all-conquering side that dominated English football throughout the 90’s.

Schmeichel provided a monstruous presence in the United goal throughout his nine years with the club which culminated on that night in Barcelona.

Miraculously for a keeper, Schmeichel scored thirteen goals in his career including this towering header for United against Rotor Volgograd in 1995.

Main image courtesy of Football Gallery with thanks.

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