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David de Gea would ‘eat too many tacos,’ former United goalkeeper coach says

Oct 3, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT


Speaking to United We Stand fanzine, former Manchester United goalkeeper coach Eric Steele dropped some gems on his former pupil David de Gea’s lifestyle and training habits when he first joined the club.

Steele says the Spaniard was “lazy in his desire to learn English,” so Steele took Spanish lessons instead, to be able to communicate with the player. De Gea is still taking English lessons, after Steele got the axe when David Moyes took over as manager from Sir Alex Ferguson.

“His first six months were horrendous,” Steele said (via The Guardian). “We changed his lifestyle. He would finish training and want to go home. When I told him to come back in the afternoon, he’d ask, ‘Why?’ 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. 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.”

Beyond highlighting the expected cultural differences between England, where goalkeepers must be big and beefy, and Spain, where slimmer figures the likes of Iker Casillas and Víctor Valdés reign, Steele’s story is one of a 19-year-old struggling to adjust to working conditions in a new country.

Despite having the “calmness, composure and inner strength” to play in front of massive Premier League crowds without a second thought, de Gea remained homesick and unable to adapt. It showed in his inconsistent performances, which he recently reversed to be named into the Professional Footballers’ Association Team of the Year last season.

“The manager stuck by him and protected him in the media,” Steele said. “He knew he had a long-term asset. He was only 19, and that was a risk, but the manager had been to watch him with me and knew how good he was.”

Two years later, de Gea has nearly turned his situation around. Despite the pressure surrounding United after its horrendous (by its standards) start to league play and the Champions League group stage, none of the criticism seems to have fallen on the goalkeeper’s shoulders.

  1. mantitebow - Oct 3, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Considering how bad the food is in Britain, I don’t blame him for not wanting to eat or drink anything else over there.

  2. dfstell - Oct 3, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    Not really surprising. That lifestyle describes most teenagers. It’s easy to forget how young some of these guys are. Surprised we don’t hear more of these stories. Glad he’s turning it around.

  3. joeyt360 - Oct 3, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    You know, tacos aren’t necessarily amongst the worst foods out there to eat. It depends on what’s inside them. Lose the guacamole/sour cream and replace the ground beef with ground turkey and you have something reasonably healthy.

  4. ismail7862013 - Oct 3, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    Reblogged this on ismail799.

  5. futbolhistorian - Oct 3, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    Mexican food in England CANNOT be good.

    • notaretard - Oct 3, 2013 at 4:22 PM

      i’ve never had it in england, but i had some surprisingly decent mexican food in ireland, the czech republic, and hong kong (and i’ve spent a significant amount of time in southern california and texas so yes, i do know good mexican food). if any of the restaurants had been here in the states they would have been mediocre at best and i’d probably rarely, if ever, go to them, but for those parts of the world i had little to no expectations, so they were a pleasant surprise in that regard. one thing i noticed though, not a single one of those restaurants gave complimentary chips and salsa. you could pay for them in hong kong, the other 2 locations didn’t offer them at all

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