Early Doors

‘Lazy’ De Gea spent too much time eating tacos and not enough training, claims ex-coach

Early Doors

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Manchester United's former goalkeeping coach has laid into the Red Devils' number one goalie David De Gea, branding him "lazy" and suggesting that he resented training, slept all the time and ate too many tacos when he arrived at Old Trafford.

The Spanish star arrived at Old Trafford two years ago as the replacement for the retiring Edwin van der Sar, but struggled to make a mark in an opening season that was characterised by a string of blunders.

De Gea's poor start even prompted Alex Ferguson into the unusual step of defending his man, and his faith has been justified as the player has turned things round and earned respect for his goalkeeping since then.

Coach Eric Steele - who left United after David Moyes took over in the summer - has lifted the lid on the shambles behind the scenes that contributed to De Gea's terrible start to his career in England.

"He would finish training and want to go home. When I told him to come back in the afternoon he'd ask: 'Why?'" Steele told the United We Stand fanzine.

"There were lifestyle issues. He'd sleep two or three times a day. He'd have his main meal late at night. He'd eat too many tacos."

Steele was the man in charge of turning things round for De Gea after his arrival, and his reports tally with some of the misadventures suffered by the former Atletico Madrid player in his early days in England - not least the bizarre circumstances in which he was accused of stealing some doughnuts from Tesco.

The staff at Old Trafford were further exasperated by De Gea dragging his heels when it came to learning the local language - prompting desperate measures from his coach.

"David is lazy in his desire to learn English. So I learned [Spanish]," said Steele.

"We needed to be able to communicate with each other straight away, even if it was just the basic terms."

Steele read the riot act to the young keeper, and managed to whip him in to shape in scenes which we like to imagine will one day be made into a sort of film montage that could be football's answer to Rocky III.

"I told him he needed to train better, that he was on show every day. There were times in his first season when he trained poorly.

"I told him that players made decisions for managers, not the other way around. That he should be first, not last out for training.

"We pushed protein drinks on him straight after training. We physically made him drink.

"We had him in the gym a lot. He hated it. They don't do the gym in Spain as much. We needed to build his core strength."

There's a clear note of pride in Steele's comments - and to an extent there's no doubt that he's doing down how good De Gea was when he arrived in order to make his contribution to the player's career seem all the more important.

That obviously ignores the scintillating form for Atletico which earned him the transfer in the first place, but hey, it makes for a great story. And Steele does pay tribute to the keeper's own innate qualities.

"Calmness, composure and inner strength. Nothing fazes him," Steele added.

"Playing in front of 76,000? No problem. Very few possess that."

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