Name: David de Gea
Club: Club Atlético de Madrid
Debut: 30/09/09 v FC Porto (UEFA Champions League)
Date of birth: 07/11/90
As recently as eight months ago, De Gea was enduring what he called a "nightmarish" time at the club he had joined as a child. Having seen Grégory Coupet and Leo Franco leave, De Gea was certain his moment would come. Those hopes, however, were dashed when Los Rojiblancos brought in Sergio Asenjo and back-up stopper Roberto. De Gea was, once again, the substitute's substitute.
Yet that all changed in dramatic fashion in September when, with Asenjo away at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, De Gea came on for the injured Roberto away to FC Porto in the UEFA Champions League. It was his senior debut. A first Liga appearance quickly followed against Real Zaragoza when he instantly won over the Vicente Calderón faithful – having conceded a penalty, he made amends with a flying save from Marko Babić's spot-kick. "I felt the fans were right behind me with every save I made," he said after the 2-1 win.
De Gea, a UEFA European Under-17 Championship winner with Spain in 2007, has not looked back since and is now established as Atlético's No1. The 19-year-old boasts great reflexes, is a fine shot-stopper and, so far, has displayed a sound temperament. Not only does he learn from mistakes, he also thrives in the spotlight. Witness Atlético's UEFA Europa League quarter-final triumph over Valencia CF, where the opposition rained down 16 shots on his goal in the first leg at Mestalla.
Porto 2-0 Atlético
30/09/09 UEFA Champions League
Just 25 minutes into Atlético's UEFA Champions League encounter at the Estádio do Dragão, Roberto was forced off with a thigh tear, prompting then coach Abel Resino to send De Gea into the action for the first time. The 18-year-old proceeded to show a self-assuredness that surprised many.
"I love games like this – you come to a really difficult away ground to face one of the greatest strikers in the world."
De Gea tells UEFA.com he is the man for the big occasion after his UEFA Europa League duel with Valencia's David Villa at the Mestalla.
"My main quality is that I spread calm. My defenders know they have a relaxed and focused person behind them, not someone who is shaking with fear."
"Fernando Torres was a real hero here. To achieve that status, a lot of serious work has to be put in. I've benefited from the fact the fans here love to see players from the youth team come through. At the end of the day, as far as Atlético are concerned, I was made at home."
"This boy is as cold as a wolf. He has composure, nerve and self-confidence. The pressures that others might feel don't affect him."
Ángel Mejías, Atlético youth-team goalkeeping coach
"Even though he's still growing physically and mentally, he's already on the road to becoming one of the best keepers around. Any other outcome would be a disappointment."
Diego Díaz, Atlético goalkeeping coach
"He played very well tonight and has done ever since he came into the team. He's a really good goalkeeper, especially when you consider his age. He's still so young at 19, but you can clearly see he has a very big future."
Atlético midfielder Paulo Assunção talks to UEFA.com after the quarter-final second leg against Valencia.
"We have complete faith in him. He exudes calm, which, being a defender, is what you want from your goalkeeper. I'm sure he'll continue to get better and better."
Atlético captain Antonio López speaking to UEFA.com in March
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