David de Gea's career as a goalkeeper may not have reached his astronomical heights had it not been for the intervention of Emilio Alvarez when the Spaniard was only 17 years old.
Alvarez, as coach of the Manchester United goalkeepers from the nomination of Jose Mourinho in 2016, was taken to Atlético Madrid by Quique Sánchez Flores and guaranteed for de Gea's potential when the others at the club were less convinced.
His judgment was soon proved correct, however, and after two impressive seasons in the first team at the Vicente Calderón, de Gea moved to United to succeed Edwin van der Sar at the tender age of 19 in 2011.
The career of the Old Trafford of the United goalkeeper could have ended with the persistent interest of Real Madrid until last summer, but Alvarez was a key reason to stay in Gea.
And the 47-year-old opened his relationship with Spain n. 1 in an interview with El País in preparation for the second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals against Barcelona.
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"It was when he was fourth after Asenjo, Roberto Jiménez and Yoel," he said of his first involvement with de Gea at Atlético.
"They were thinking of loaning David, but after the first training session I told Quique:" We have to play it. "
"He was 17 and he was very thin, but he had talent."
The beginning of life of De Gea in the Premier League was shaky, with the physicality of English football that caused considerable difficulty for the slightly built goalkeeper.
But it was the testimony of de Gea's guide who became one of the best goalkeepers in the world in the following years, with his performances improving once again that his work relationship with Alvarez resumed two and a half years ago.
Alvarez believes that de Gea's greatest strength is his mental resilience, which he believes is the key to the Premier League.
"This competition has many nuances that make it different from any other," he explained.
"The style of play, the fast transitions and the criteria of arbitration are different.
"The climate is another factor, when the concierge has little to do on a cold day they are interested – as they are when they are wet.
"Their ability to concentrate and feel comfortable can affect their performance. That's why mental work is essential."
Alvarez was held back by United's coaches after Mourinho's dismissal in December, when the former Spanish worker in the second division expected to leave the club.
He is known to be popular on United's first team – particularly among the Spanish contingent – and is highly respected in coaching circles.
"It came naturally to me," Alvarez said of the goalkeeper's pass from the goalkeeper coach.
"The role of a goalkeeper coach was not particularly widespread [when he played in the 1990s].
"There have been times when I was told to go there and do something for 15 minutes.
"I found it difficult to understand why we were wasting time because we couldn't do much, but I planned the exercises and, thanks to my love for football, it happened."
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