Now that Manchester United’s David De Gea is undoubtably one of the best goalkeepers in the world, people are not really concerned with his sight issues. But it was a different story when he was starting his career at Atletico Madrid.
The Spaniard has hypermetropia, also known as farsightedness, which means he can perfectly see things that are far from him, but has problems to focus on close objects.
That was pretty well known between his Colchonero teammates at the time he was joining Atletico Madrid’s first team, as revealed by the former midfielder Paulo Assunção. Interviewed by Francisco De Laurentiis and Vladimir Bianchini from ESPN Brasil, he’s talked about how concerned he was with the keeper.
“He once told me he had a big vision problem and couldn’t see much, but still saved the balls. It was amazing”, Paulo Assunção told ESPN.
“His biggest problem was playing at night, but he’d get to all the balls and I even joked: ‘Do not operate on that eye, that’s good. What if it gets worse!’ (laughs). If things were going well, it was better not to mess with. I said to him, ‘Operate after you retire.'”
The former player, who performed for Atletico between 2008 and 2012, recalled not only De Gea’s proccess of joining the first team, but also his debut for the club in 2009.
“When I arrived, he was the 3rd goalkeeper and only trained. What impressed me the most was the way he said he wanted to be a player. And in a preseason he saw that he was not going to have chances because there were others in front of him. The board wanted to loan him to a smaller club, but he did not want to. He said he loved Atlético and was not going to leave.
“He showed a lot of personality. His dream was to play for Atletico and he said to me: ‘Paulo, I’d rather be a reserve here and get my place.’
“He’s always been a very fast goalkeeper who used his feet to take the space out of the attackers. There was a game against Porto in the Champions League, which the first choice got injured and the reserve went to the pitch, but got injured stillin the first half. Then David came on and it was a historic moment.
“He was just a kid, and their stadium was crowded with 40,000 people, I thought he was going to feel it and be nervous, but he saved everything and didn’t let anything go in. He went out to play as if he were with his friends in the neighborhood. It seemed like he was at home, and at the end of the game was chosen as the best on the pitch.”
“At the end of the game, I hugged him and said, ‘David, what happened today was written. God bless you! You’ll be a great player, kid. ‘ After that, he became a starter and never left the team.”
In 2012 it was reported in England the Manchester United goalkeeper needed eye surgery, which prompted headlines like ‘United ‘keeper De Gea to have eye surgery. It figures’, ‘Manchester United’s error-prone David de Gea may need eye surgery’, and ‘United’s De Gea set for eye surgery – Long-sighted, gaffe-prone keeper wears contact lenses to play’.