Goalkeeper idolised United heroes

De Gea reveals United admiration

June 21, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Atletico Madrid goalkeeper David De Gea says he has taken Manchester United's interest in him as a "compliment" and revealed that Old Trafford legends Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar were among his boyhood idols.

David de Gea Spain
PA PhotosDavid de Gea is currently on international duty with Spain at the UEFA U-21 Championship

• De Gea motivated by United interest

De Gea, 20, has been heavily linked with a move to United over the past few months, though no deal has been done yet for the Spanish custodian, who is currently on international duty at the European Under-21 Championship in Denmark.

United have been searching for a new goalkeeper since Van der Sar revealed his intention to retire earlier this year and De Gea remains the firm favourite to replace the Dutchman as the Premier League champions' No. 1.

Despite the constant speculation, the 20-year-old insists he remains solely focused on helping Spain at the Under-21 Championship for now and refused to be drawn on his future.

"I am trying to stay focused on the Euros for now because it's fundamentally important to our hopes that we all think only about that,'' he told AS.

"Manchester United are a great club and if they are interested in you, it's a great compliment, but Atletico are also great.

"I'm just more relaxed if I focus on the Euros. I want my head here, not somewhere else.''

But asked whether he is keen to make a step up in quality, De Gea said: "Everyone wants to do this, you want to carry on learning, improving, this happens in all areas."

He was also happy to talk up the abilities of two former United 'keepers, with the Spaniard revealing that Van der Sar and Schmeichel inspired him when he was growing up.

"Edwin has been playing at 20 years at the highest level; he's a great goalkeeper and a big point of reference for me,'' De Gea said. "(When I was younger) I liked Schmeichel a lot, as well as Van der Sar - they're the two best that I've seen.''