Why David De Gea is a top professional
David De Gea may not have played yet for Spain at Euro 2020, but it's clear that he's still an important member of Luis Enrique's squad.
Unai Simon has been the former Barcelona manager’s preferred choice between the sticks and he performed well in the group stages as La Roja progressed having conceded just one goal across games with Sweden, Poland and Slovakia.
But that good start threatened to come crashing down when Simon allowed Pedri’s backpass to slip past his his feet and into the net early in Spain’s round-of-16 tie with Croatia on Monday.
It was the type of mistake that can ruin a goalkeeper’s reputation and it would have been easy for David, watching on from the bench after overcoming an injury scare, to react in a negative way.
Instead, our no.1 used the half-time break – by which time the three-time champions had equalised through Pablo Sarabia – to offer a few comforting words to his fellow shot-stopper.
Pictures of David speaking to the Athletic Bilbao man on the pitch were doing the rounds on social media almost immediately, with former United goalkeeping coach Frans Hoek echoing the thoughts of fans on Twitter, saying: ‘Top professional and helping team-mate!’
Simon himself was asked about the incident and, although he refused to disclose the exact conversation with De Gea, he credited the Red’s intervention for his impressive upturn in performance.
“It's true. At half-time, David comes up to me to say a few things, which will remain between him and me,” Simon revealed to UEFA.com.
“What I can tell you is that when a goalie like David comes up to you, looks to lift your spirits, knows what you're going through and conveys his confidence in you – that's the best thing anyone can do for you to go out for the second half and perform brilliantly, and even better in extra-time.”
Simon could do nothing about the Mislav Orsic and Mario Pasalic goals which extended the game by an additional 30 minutes, but he made an exceptional save – one which we’ve become used to seeing De Gea pull off in his 10 years at Old Trafford – to stop Andrej Kramaric making it 4-3 in extra time.
Spain eventually ran out 5-3 winners to set up a quarter-final tie with Switzerland (Friday, 17:00 BST kick-off) and, whether Simon continues in goal or De Gea is brought in, there is obvious unity within the camp – and that’s a vital ingredient to international success.