Skip to content

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

Oct 3, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT

FBL-ENG-ESP-MAN UTD-SEVILLA Getty Images

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Reports: RBNY adds young Argentine DP as MLS transfer surge continues

    Aug 4, 2015, 9:33 PM EDT

    MARRAKECH, MOROCCO - DECEMBER 17: Gonzalo Veron (L) of San Lorenzo in action with Ivan Vicelich of Auckland City during the FIFA Club World Cup Semi Final match between CA San Lorenzo and Auckland City FC at Marrakech Stadium on December 17, 2014 in Marrakech, Morocco. (Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images) Getty Images

    A winger, Veron scored eight times in 52 appearances for Argentine power San Lorenzo.

  2. Cascadia Cup banter between Sounders, Timbers hits toilet levels; Seattle avoids “Peay” joke

    Aug 4, 2015, 9:09 PM EDT

    Dempsey AP

    Full marks to the Sounders for not pointing out that Portland has a player named Peay.

  3. Reports: Mexico meets with Marseille coach Bielsa; Is this El Tri’s next boss?

    Aug 4, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT

    Marseille's Argentinian head coach Marcelo Bielsa looks on during the French Ligue 1 football  match between Lille and Marseille on May 16, 2015 at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Lille, northern France. AFP PHOTO /  DENIS CHARLET        (Photo credit should read DENIS CHARLET/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    L’Equipe says FMF representatives met with Bielsa’s people on Tuesday morning and France, and that Bielsa is interested.

  4. Qatari foreign minister promises “best World Cup” ever, says human rights changes will come

    Aug 4, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT

    Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah gives a press conference following his meeting with his Tunisian counterpart, Taieb Baccouche, in Tunis on June 4, 2015. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID        (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The “end of the year” promise could be the real deal, but the nation has certainly taken its time.

  5. PST Extra: Who are the Premier League’s top offseason acquisitions so far? (video)

    Aug 4, 2015, 6:22 PM EDT

    Andre Ayew of Swansea City Getty Images

    The transfer window hasn’t closed, but a lot of the names who’ve climbed through it have us salivating for Saturday’s start to the Premier League season.

  6. Benitez expects Bale and Benzema to stay at the Bernabeu

    Aug 4, 2015, 5:33 PM EDT

    <> at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 5, 2015 in Madrid, Spain. Getty Images

    Keeping Bale and Benzema around will keep Madrid among the favorites for the UEFA Champions League, as the giants search for Undecima.

  7. Premier League defenders: Who’s in our Top Five? And how to choose just five?

    Aug 4, 2015, 4:47 PM EDT

    Everton v Tottenham Hotspur - Barclays Premier League Getty Images

    Picking a group of five defenders is way more difficult than selecting the best goalkeepers in the league.

  8. On the move again: McInerney shipped to Columbus for a draft pick

    Aug 4, 2015, 4:13 PM EDT

    TORONTO, ON- MAY 13  - Toronto FC defender Eriq Zavaleta undresses Jack McInerney as Toronto FC plays Montreal Impact in the Semi-Final of the Amway Canadian Championship  at BMO Field  in Toronto.  May 13, 2015.        (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images) Getty Images

    McInerney, however, has disappointed in recent seasons. Perhaps a change in leader, albeit for the second time, will help.

  9. Report: Manchester City sells Edin Dzeko to AS Roma for $21 million

    Aug 4, 2015, 3:19 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Sunderland - Barclays Asia Trophy Final Getty Images

    At Roma, Dzeko will join a loaded attack which includes Mattia Destro, Victor Ibarbo and Seydou Doumbia, as well as Francesco Totti.

  10. Maps, rivals, stadiums: Location of all 20 Premier League teams for 2015-16 season

    Aug 4, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT

    Aerial Views Of Central London Getty Images

    Ever wonder where the games you’re watching on TV are taking place? Here’s a guide to help you out.

  11. CONCACAF Champions League returns: Five MLS teams eye continental glory

    Aug 4, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    CONCACAF Champions League Final - 2nd Leg - Club America v Montreal Impact CONCACAF Champions League Final - 2nd Leg - Club America v Montreal Impact

    D.C. United, LA Galaxy, RSL, Vancouver and Seattle fly the MLS flag as they look to break Liga MX’s stronghold.

  12. A televised coin flip will decide which team hosts the 2015 U.S. Open Cup final

    Aug 4, 2015, 12:50 PM EDT

    US Open Cup trophy Getty Images

    This coin toss is a really, really big deal for the four teams left in the competition.

  13. On his way out of PSG, should Arsenal or Manchester United sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic?

    Aug 4, 2015, 12:20 PM EDT

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic AP

    Should a PL giant hand Zlatan a chance to strut his stuff in England’s top-flight?

  14. Jose Mourinho praises Chelsea’s Premier League title rivals, talks Abramovich

    Aug 4, 2015, 10:24 AM EDT

    Crystal Palace v Chelsea Getty Images

    Blues boss hugely complimentary of the PL’s other big boys heading into the new season.

  15. VIDEO: Watch Men In Blazers’ season premiere in full, featuring “The 2 Robbies”

    Aug 4, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    MIB with the 2 Robbies

    Rog, Davo, Mustoe and Earle hang out in the panic room and preview the upcoming PL season.

  16. AZ Alkmaar agree to sell USMNT forward Aron Johannsson to Werder Bremen

    Aug 4, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT

    Dutch Eredivisie - "AZ Alkmaar v Vitesse Arnhem" Getty Images

    Dutch club reach “agreement in outline” with Bundesliga side Bremen for AJ.

  17. Reports: Manchester United submitted two bids for Gareth Bale over $110 million

    Aug 3, 2015, 9:28 PM EDT

    Bale Getty Images

    Apparently Louis van Gaal really, really wants Gareth Bale on his team.

  18. Report: AZ Alkmaar speaking with Werder Bremen about Aron Johannsson

    Aug 3, 2015, 7:55 PM EDT

    Johannsson Getty Images

    Could the USMNT forward be thinking about a move to the Bundesliga?

Featured video

Top 5 new guys in the Premier League