David De Gea has come a long way from the shy, unassuming boy that arrived at Manchester United in the summer of 2011.
“There was a difficult time at the start especially that game against Blackburn at home where we lost and I didn’t play well. I suffered. I knew I wasn’t at the level I wanted to be but I had self belief in my abilities and I worked harder to improve.”
The 22-year-old has since made 57 appearances for United, kept 24 clean sheets and went 537 minutes without conceding in the Premier League, the longest since Van Der Sar’s record of 1,302 minutes set back in 2009.
His performances have seen his critics retire back into their shells and he rightfully earned a spot on the PFA Team of the Year having been head and shoulders above any other keeper in the Premier League this year.
Not one to talk much due to his lack of English, it isn’t often we get to hear what De Gea has to say but the BBC’s Football Focus sat down with De Gea to talk about how his United career has gone so far, what winning the title means to him this season and how he feels David Moyes will get on in succeeding Ferguson as manager.
Dan Walker: How is it for you to be champions of the Premier League?
David De Gea: It was a very special feeling. Imagine winning the league with Manchester and then that journey on the bus through the streets of Manchester. It was incredible and unforgettable and I hope that continues with a lot more trophies.
Dan Walker: How important has your relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson been?
Well I think I have been improving little by little. I have been going to the gym and I feel more comfortable in more areas of my game. Corners, free kicks, in everything.
David De Gea: When times got tough and there were some critics, he has always supported me and gave me lots of advice, and that gave me a lot of confidence. I don’t know how to express the feeling we felt when he decided to retire – it was a strange moment.
Dan Walker: There was quite a bit of early criticism wasn’t there?
David De Gea: There was a difficult time at the start especially that game against Blackburn at home where we lost and I didn’t play well. I suffered. I knew I wasn’t at the level I wanted to be but I had self belief in my abilities and I worked harder to improve.
Dan Walker: What do you know about David Moyes? Have you spoken to him or met him?
David De Gea: He spent so many years at Everton and has had great success. The truth is he is a great successor to Sir Alex and I think he will do a great job and I know he will be here for many years.
Dan Walker: People are saying you understand the physicality of the Premier League and are more than capable of dealing with it. Do you agree with that?
David De Gea: Well I think I have been improving little by little. I have been going to the gym and I feel more comfortable in more areas of my game. Corners, free kicks, in everything.
And the truth is I am a little more aggressive when I play and I hope that shows. I’m going to continue to work hard and to improve and I think that moment exemplified that I am at the higher level.
Dan Walker: Is it true that you are a stone heavier than you were when you joined?
David De Gea: I have to eat well, do lots of work in the gym and the combination means that I have gained muscle weight.
Dan Walker: Is it important that a club like Manchester United keep hold of their big players like Wayne Rooney?
David De Gea: Yes. Every club wants to keep their best players and also sign the best players available to form a team of stars to make the best team possibly. And obviously Manchester will always try theior hardest to keep their key players whilst continuing to build a strong squad with new players.