David De Gea has yet to concede at this summers European Under-21 Championships in Israel as Spain face Italy in Tuesday's final.
At the start of the season if you had suggested that David De Gea would be voted by his peers as the Premier League’s best goalkeeper you would probably have been laughed at. The Spaniard cost Manchester United £19 million in 2011 but immediately many were worried by what they saw.
A rather lanky and erratic looking stopper with all the composure of a giraffe on ice and the physical presence of early days Rodney Trotter; they were not convinced.
He also struggled when it came to game time and occasionally found himself out of contention; with Danish number two Anders Lindegaard pulled in to replace him.
However this time last year De Gea embarked on an intense pre-season regime that saw him bulk up physically and work on the parts of his game that had caused him so many problems in his early United career.
Under the tutelage of Eric Steele he quickly started to look every bit the goalkeeper that Sir Alex Ferguson had first promised us; and he repaid the faith shown in him throughout piles upon piles of transfer rumour with an excellent campaign.
His vote as the Premier League’s best goalkeeper was justified and he was pretty decent in the Champions League to boot; with an incredible performance in the Bernabeu the stand-out moment of his season.
But he has not stopped there.
This summer he has joined the likes of Isco, Thiago and Rodrigo in the Spanish under-21 side for the European Championships in Israel. Remember them? England were in it for about five minutes.
Spain have shown much more in the form of staying power as they have reached the final on Tuesday night against an Italy side containing Liverpool forward Fabio Borini.
But while the passing play and attacking prowess will get most of the praise De Gea and his back-line also deserve mass credit for their part in the success; because as yet Spain have not conceded a single goal in this summer’s tournament.
Even when up against the likes of the representative side from footballing powerhouses such as Russia, Germany and Holland and the talented Norwegian group, all of whom have many fully fledged internationals in their squad, De Gea’s goal has yet to be breached.
That task now lies at the feet of Borini and co if they are to stop Spain romping to another footballing accolade; but given the form of De Gea and his compatriots I would not bet on it.
image: © 3oheme