Former Scout Reveals Alex Ferguson Missed a United Game to Watch De Gea in Action for Atletico

Publish date:

After yet another terrific display, this time at the Emirates stadium against rivals Arsenal on Saturday evening, David De Gea confirmed the belief of many that he is now the world's best goalkeeper. 

Arriving from Atletico Madrid for £19m in 2011 as a gaunt and shy 19-year-old, he initially struggled with the physicality of the Premier League, but he has now blossomed into a consistently high performer and a reliable last line of defence for the Old Trafford club.

Reported in the Daily Mail, former United goalkeeping coach Eric Steele explained how Alex Ferguson missed a first-team match to watch the precocious talent in action for Atletico at Valencia. After watching him perform for just 65 minutes, Ferguson knew that the Spaniard would be the future goalkeeper for his club. 

Steele revealed: "I can only remember Sir Alex Ferguson missing two United matches. He missed a Manchester derby in 2000 for his son’s wedding. The other time? To scout the brilliant David de Gea.


"People targeted David physically but we never changed our programme to improve him. We knew the strength and power would come. Sir Alex and I encouraged him the whole time. 

"Sir Alex did not criticise him. Not once. He left him out at some stages and put him back in but he never shouted at him or put him down. 

"And just look at David now! His outstanding quality has always been his calmness and on Saturday night, amid all the penalty-box mayhem, he was a beacon of tranquillity. He is the calmest man on the field."

Steele and United's scouting team deserve credit for discovering De Gea and installing the programme of development to enable progression, but Ferguson certainly played a major role in his growth as a player. 

Allowing him the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them is essential. Also creating that environment where De Gea could play without fear so he could express himself and develop into the all-round keeper he is today are managerial masterstrokes that make Ferguson so revered in today's game.