David de Gea, Manchester United
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‘It is clear I have improved over the last year and that is down to the hard work I have done with all the coaches,’ said De Gea.
‘It was hard at the beginning because I had come from a different league, I just didn’t know what to expect in this league and the type of football. I knew I had to become bigger physically. It was obvious.
‘You can see now I look different to when I first came here, I have much more muscle," said de Gea. ‘I have worked hard in the gym lifting heavy weights and doing a lot of exercises. It was a very intense regime.
‘I changed my diet as well and now I eat an awful lot more than I used to, to build myself up for the physical challenges of the English game.
‘In training the players would deliberately hit high balls into me and barge into me so I would get used to that side of the English game. I actually enjoy the physical side of it all now.’
New manager David Moyes appears likely to keep the Spaniard as his first choice.
De Gea was asked about his short-comings and errors last season.
‘During the tough times I always kept it in my mind to keep working harder to become a better player," said de Gea. ‘I do not think people appreciate just how hard it was for me coming to a new country at that age and a different type of football but I am thankful to God that I have progressed even though it was hard.
‘My immediate family came over with me from the start but I missed my friends back home. I know there was a stage when I was dropped to the bench, but that was good for me as it made me stronger and better.
‘Also the trust that Sir Alex Ferguson put in me gave me a lot of confidence. He was like that with me from the very start.
‘And Eric Steele was a great goalkeeping coach who always looked after me and I will remember that. Now I have a new coach and I am enjoying learning different things with him. Everything is now better. I am very happy in Manchester.’
Spanish No 1 Iker Casillas said that ‘eventually David will retire us all’.
‘It is great that a goalkeeper as good as Iker has said that I could be the best of them all,’ he said. ‘It is very humbling but yes it is possible. Those words motivate me to reach that goal.
‘When Edwin van der Sar said he was leaving Manchester United I wanted to be the man to replace him. I was given that chance and I am not going to let it go. I would love if one day the fans speak of me in the same way they speak of Edwin and Peter Schmeichel.
‘That would mean all the hard work has paid off.’
David de Gea was named to the 2013 PFA Team of the Year.
2013 PFA Team of the Year
David De Gea (Man Utd)
Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham), Leighton Baines (Everton)
Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Juan Mata (Chelsea), Michael Carrick (Man Utd), Gareth Bale(Tottenham)
Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
And De Gea was one of three players from Premier League clubs that made the U21 Euros Allstar Squad.
Of the 23 selected, just Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea, Liverpool striker Fabio Borini and Tottenham winger Lewis Holtby come from the Premier League.
2013 UEFA European U21 Championship all-star squad
Goalkeepers: Francesco Bardi (Italy), David De Gea (Spain), Ørjan Nyland (Norway)
Defenders: Marc Bartra (Spain), Luca Caldirola (Italy), Iñigo Martínez (Spain), Bruno Martins Indi (Netherlands), Martín Montoya (Spain), Alberto Moreno (Spain), Stefan Strandberg (Norway)
Midfielders: Alan Dzagoev (Russia), Lewis Holtby (Germany), Asier Illarramendi (Spain), Isco (Spain), Koke (Spain), Adam Maher(Netherlands), Thiago Alcántara (Spain), Marco Verratti (Italy)
Forwards: Fabio Borini (Italy), Luuk De Jong (Netherlands), Álvaro Morata (Spain), Rodrigo Moreno (Spain), Georginio Wijnaldum (Netherlands)