Club Atlético de Madrid's 18-year-old goalkeeper David de Gea had a week to remember after making a surprise debut for his team in the UEFA Champions League and earning hero status at the Vicente Calderón following the weekend Liga win against Real Zaragoza.
After just 26 minutes of Los Rojiblancos' Group D encounter with FC Porto last Wednesday, Atlético's second-choice keeper Roberto was forced off with a right thigh tear. With summer signing Sergio Asenjo on duty with Spain at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, all eyes on the Atlético bench turned to De Gea, who − despite conceding two late goals to Falcao and Rolando at the Estádio do Dragão − was thrilled to take his first steps with the Liga side. "It was difficult to sleep the night after that game with all of the emotion I felt," the teenager explained. "It was a dream come true for me to debut with Atlético, especially in a Champions League game."
Referred to as 'Edwin van der Sar', De Gea realised another ambition on Saturday night when he started his team's first league victory of the season, a 2-1 win against Zaragoza. With his team one goal up, the goalkeeper conceded a penalty after upending Jorge López. Roars of delight from the home support soon followed, however, when the youth-team product made a flying save from Marko Babić's spot-kick. "I felt the fans were right behind me with every save I made," the Spanish Under-19 international said. "To make my full debut at the Vicente Calderón was something very special. The team won and I stopped a penalty; I felt really comfortable between the posts."
A UEFA European Under-17 Championship winner with Spain in 2007, De Gea has been earmarked to follow in the footsteps of other early Liga starters like Real Madrid CF's Iker Casillas and FC Barcelona's Víctor Valdés. "He has all the attributes to go on and become a great goalkeeper," said his coach Abel Resino, himself a former Atlético No1. "The calmness he displayed in such big games was tremendous; he has great nerve."
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