Spotlight on De Gea

David De Gea has been signed by Manchester United as a long-term replacement for the retired Edwin van der Sar. The 20-year old now has the opportunity to fulfil his much lauded potential. By Rob Ellis.

David De Gea's position as one of the best goalkeeping prospects in European football has been confirmed by his high-profile move to Manchester United.

Signed as a long-term replacement for the retired Edwin van der Sar, the 20-year old now has the opportunity to fulfil his much lauded potential.

De Gea received his footballing education from the youth system of his home-town club, Atletico Madrid, which he joined at the age of 13. He began his professional career five years later, in 2008, making 35 appearances for Atletico Madrid B in the third tier of Spanish football.

De Gea's first-team opportunity came in September 2009, not yet aged 19, when he made his UEFA Champions League debut against FC Porto in a 2-0 defeat.

Reflecting on his debut, De Gea revealed: “It was difficult to sleep the night after that game with all of the emotion I felt. It was a dream come true for me to debut with Atletico, especially in a Champions League game.”

Three days later, making his La Liga debut against Real Zaragoza, De Gea exemplified his early promise. Nineteen minutes into the game, De Gea upended forward Jordi Lopez only to then make a flying save to keep out Marko Babic's ensuing penalty, helping his team achieve a 2-1 victory and ending the game with a standing ovation from the Vincente Calderon crowd.

After further good performances, De Gea cemented his position as a potential first XI player and by the end of the season, thanks to the faith placed in him by new manager Quique Sanchez Florez, De Gea was Atletico's first-choice keeper.

The new number one celebrated his first season in first-team football with a UEFA Europa League winners medal after Atletico defeated Fulham in Hamburg.

This was followed by a 2-0 victory against Champions League winners Inter Milan in the Super Cup final, a game in which De Gea again made a fine penalty save, this time against then UEFA Club Footballer of the Year Diego Milito.

Such success at club level has been replicated for his country at youth level with De Gea playing a crucial role in Spain's 2007 European under-21 Championship victory, conceding only two goals in five games and helping his side defeat Belgium in a semi-final penalty shootout.

De Gea confirmed Sir Alex Ferguson's belief that he would be a suitable acquisition for Manchester United at the 2011 European under-21 Championship and just two days after he helped Spain defeat Switzerland in the final, he was in Manchester completing his medical and sealing a reported GBP18.9million move to the English champions.

De Gea's height and build makes for immediate comparisons to his predecessor at United, Van der Sar, and many hold the belief that De Gea has the ability to replicate the great Dutchman's form at Old Trafford.

His former coach Abel Resino said: “He has all the attributes to go on and become a great goalkeeper. The calmness he displayed in such big games was tremendous; he has great nerve.”

It seems nobody is in doubt that his move to Old Trafford is deserved. Now it is time to make it a success

De Gea is dating 25-year old Spanish popstar Edurne Almagro, who finished sixth in the fourth series of Spanish reality series Operacion Triunfo.

Name: David de Gea Position: Goalkeeper Club: Manchester United D.O.B: 07/11/90 Moment to remember

A solid performance against Fulham in the UEFA Europa League final gave De Gea his first club medal, and his team their first major European trophy for 24 years.

Moment to forget

Atletico Madrid lost the 2010 Copa Del Rey final, with De Gea unable to prevent Sevilla winning the game 2-0.

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