Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has been speaking ahead of Spain’s World Cup defence which kicks off later this week.
The 23-year-old United star enjoyed an outstanding campaign at Old Trafford and was deservedly crowned the club’s Player of the Season. But he is now in Brazil hoping to be a part of what would be a glorious double for the Spaniards.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, De Gea revealed just how long he had been working towards being part of football’s biggest competition.
“All my sporting life has been linked to this selection,” he said. “I’ve been working since childhood to be here at a World Cup and have the good fortune to be part of a fantastic group. I’m proud of it.”
And well he should be, because he has gone from being the butt of many people’s jokes when he first arrived in England to arguably the best ‘keeper in the country.
At 23, he is already up there with Thibaut Courtois as one of the best young goalkeepers in the game. But while his immediate attention will be on the World Cup, United will know they have to tie him down to a new deal sooner rather than later.
De Gea’s current contract at Old Trafford expires in the summer of 2016, and while there have been suggestions a new one is forthcoming, until the player signs there will remain a fear that United could lose a man tipped to be every bit as important to United as Edwin van der Sar and Peter Schmeichel before him.
While he currently has both Iker Casillas and Pepe Reina ahead of him in the pecking-order for his national team, he also knows his moment could come at any time.
“I have come to learn, to look, to observe and be prepared if something happens,” he added. “One of my goals is to be the number one goalkeeper in the selection. I know it’s difficult because there are great goalkeepers.”
And yet De Gea is fast becoming one such player, and his time will come; although he believes his best could still be some way off.
“I’m a better goalie since I’ve been at Manchester United,” he said. “But I have three or four years before I am at my best.”
United fans and staff alike will simply be hoping he is still at Old Trafford when he reaches that peak.