David de Gea admits he considered leaving Manchester United a couple of years ago, but he is glad he opted to stay.
De Gea walked away from Old Trafford on Sunday with a big smile on his face after playing a crucial role in United’s 2-1 win over Everton.
The Spanish goalkeeper earned glowing reviews for the way he acrobatically denied Leon Osman and Bryan Oviedo, as well as Leighton Baines, who saw his previously impeccable penalty record vanish thanks to De Gea’s right-hand save.
"It was probably one of my best performances for Manchester United. I was really happy about that," De Gea said.
"Games like that helps your confidence grow."
Rewind three years and De Gea could barely muster a smile.
His dream £18million move from Atletico Madrid immediately turned into a nightmare when he was blamed for both goals in United’s narrow Community Shield win over Manchester City.
Worse was to come in the course of his first six months at Old Trafford.
Errors against Basle and Benfica quickened United’s early exit from the Champions League while domestically, De Gea cost United points against West Brom and Blackburn among others.
De Gea was struggling to bulk up to help him cope with the demands of playing in the Barclays Premier League and, understandably for a 20-year-old, he was finding the move away from his family to a foreign country extremely difficult.
At times, the pressure proved too intense for the young goalkeeper, who had played less than two years’ worth of first-team football before he moved to Manchester.
"Sometimes," De Gea said when asked whether he ever thought about leaving.
"It’s difficult when you get a lot of criticism like I did. But I kept strong and I always tried to remain positive.
"Those early days were difficult for me and my family. But when you play for a big club like Manchester United (being criticised) is normal when you don’t play well."
Although he does not remember the early days of his fledgling career fondly, De Gea is glad he went through the experience as he feels it toughened him up and made him the goalkeeper he is today.
"What happened at the start helped me be the player and man I am now," he said.