David de Gea has been earmarked as the long-term successor to Iker Casillas in the Spain national team. The 23-year-old has been in superb form for Manchester United for the past two seasons and was finally rewarded with a debut for his country on Saturday.
De Gea came on in place of Spain captain and first-choice goalkeeper Casillas in the 83rd minute during La Furia Roja’s friendly international against El Salvador in Washington. Vicente del Bosque’s side went on to win the game 2-0 as they continue their preparations for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, but it was the former Atletico Madrid star’s achievement that was the main talking point.
Such is the competition in the Spain squad that until Saturday De Gea had not even played a senior international game for his country. Casillas, Pepe Reina and Victor Valdes have been ahead of him in the pecking order, and it was only a long-term injury to the Barcelona goalkeeper that opened a window of opportunity for the United star.
De Gea is unlikely to get any playing time in Brazil as it is very rare for a third-choice goalkeeper to feature in the World Cup. The United keeper is said to eventually replace Casillas as the number one for his country, but for the moment he will be his understudy. The Real Madrid custodian may be 33 years of age, but he still remains an influential figure and Del Bosque’s first choice.
So how did Casillas feel to have been replaced by a man 10 years younger than him who will eventually replace him in the team? Like a gentleman, the veteran congratulated him, as De Gea revealed on social networking site Twitter.
De Gea wrote: ‘Casillas came to congratulate me. Hope this is the first game of many’.