1. DAVID DE GEA
|Birthdate:||07 Nov 1990|
|Joined United:||01 Jul 2011|
|United Debut:||7 Aug 2011 v Man City (N)|
A Spain Under-21 international, De Gea is the man who had the unenviable task of replacing Edwin van der Sar when the Dutch keeper retired in 2011.
Born in Madrid in 1990, De Gea is a product of Atletico Madrid’s Academy. Tall, athletic and confident with the ball at his feet, he progressed quickly through Atletico’s youth ranks and spent his first professional season with the club’s Reserves. A first-team debut arrived early in the following season when he made his senior bow as a substitute against FC Porto in the Champions League. He retained his spot, became a regular between the posts and his dream first campaign was capped with success in the Europa League as he played a major role in delivering Atletico’s first major European trophy in almost 50 years. De Gea’s reputation was enhanced in his second full season in La Liga and rumours of United’s interest, which had existed since January 2010, gathered pace in September when the Reds’ goalkeeper coach Eric Steele was spotted in Spain scouting the young stopper. By the end of the 2010/11 season, he was touted by many media outlets as Sir Alex Ferguson’s top choice to replace Van der Sar, although talks were put on hold while he helped Spain win UEFA’s Under-21 European Championship in Denmark. Despite his age and relative inexperience – he joined United after just two full seasons of senior football – De Gea enjoyed a largely successful first campaign at Old Trafford. After enduring a baptism of fire, with critics seemingly scrutinising his every performance, he adapted to the rigours of English league football. After Anders Lindegaard’s New Year run in the team was ended by an injury in training, De Gea emerged revitalised and remained in the United goal from the 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge until the season’s end. During that game against Chelsea, he made a superb save to prevent his countryman Juan Mata from grabbing a late winner and, in doing so, hammered home his credentials as a long-term United keeper. Although he ended the season without any silverware to show for his efforts, aside from the Community Shield, his late-season form will have reassured fans who were concerned after the departure of Van der Sar. After earning his first call-up to the full Spain squad, he was named captain of his country’s Olympic team – meaning he missed United’s pre-season tour.