David De Gea blossomed into one of the top goalkeepers in the world after joining United in 2011.
When Sir Alex Ferguson signed the Spaniard to replace the outgoing Edwin van der Sar, the youngster was immediately thrust into the limelight. However, having already helped Atletico Madrid to win the Europa League in 2009/10 and the UEFA Super Cup thereafter, he was more than up to the task. His first season at United saw him unfairly scrutinised by sections of the media at every turn, but he adapted to the English game to show his true colours.
The Madrid-born shot-stopper’s fan-favourite status at Old Trafford has been emphasised by him claiming the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award on four occasions, more than any other player in United's history. Meanwhile, he has also collected the club’s Player’s Player of the Year award three times, showing the high regard his team-mates hold him in.
A mainstay of the Reds’ side, and occasional captain, his efforts between the posts have earned him respect from his peers as well, illustrated by the fact he has appeared in the PFA Team of the Year five times. In 2017/18, De Gea also became the first Reds keeper to win the Golden Gloves award, for keeping the most clean sheets in the Premier League, in nine years.
The following campaign, was his first as an ever-present in the division and contained some real highs, such as a remarkable performance in a win at Tottenham and an astounding stop against Young Boys in the Champions League. David’s form towards the end of the campaign, mirroring that of the team in general, did slip below his usual standard but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer backed his no.1 and rightly praised his character and unquestioned ability.
A challenge for the Spain jersey was brought by Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga, and, later, Unai Simon of Athletic Club.
De Gea signed a new long-term contract in September 2020, tying him to the club until at least June 2023, but the 2019/20 season was an indifferent one for the Madrileno. Despite plenty of typically miraculous saves – an astounding double effort at Sheffield United, and a superb performance in the Carabao Cup win against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium – there were also some uncharacteristic lapses in concentration.
But David maintained his place in the United goal for the start of 2020/21, and, although there were plenty of outings for Dean Henderson, he made 28 appearances in total. Unfortunately, the last of these was a painful experience as his penalty was saved in the shoot-out against Villarreal in the Europa League final, leading to an 11-10 loss, after the 1-1 draw in Gdansk.
Determined to bounce back, he was soon reaching peak form again once 2021/22 got under way. Three successive Player of the Month awards at the club were testament to his quality and consistency, and this was followed by being named the Premier League Player of the Month for January. He was the first keeper since Southampton's Fraser Forster in 2016 to earn the trophy.
De Gea remained a consistent performer for the rest of the season, culminating in the Spaniard being voted United's Player's Player of the Year by his team-mates, winning the award for a record fourth time.