David De Gea turns 27 today (Tuesday) and the Manchester United no.1 recently revealed that he could have had a very different career.
The Spanish star, pipped for October’s Player of the Month award by Anthony Martial by a single percentage of the vote, used to combine playing up front with keeping goal before making the decision that he would be best served donning the gloves.
It has proved to be the right choice, even if the keeper’s ability with his feet owes much to his work as an outfield player in his youth.
“I played up front at school in Madrid, then at a soccer school there too,” he told United Review. “I used to combine the two roles and play as a striker and then in goal. But, in the end, I realised I was a better keeper.”
De Gea also makes a number of saves with his feet, one of his traits, including a key stop at Anfield to thwart Liverpool’s Joel Matip in the goalless draw in mid-October.
“It’s pure instinct,” he said. “It’s something you do automatically. It’s not like you think to yourself: ‘I’m going to use my feet’.
“It’s just a reaction and there are times when the ball is coming at you very close to your body and there’s not enough time to get down. I’ve always been decent with my feet so it’s another skill you can call upon.
“[As I said], as a kid, I used to play out of goal, so my touch isn’t too bad.”