De Gea joined the Reds from Atletico Madrid aged 20 in 2011 and initially struggled with the hurly-burly of the Premier League.
The Spaniard committed a number of costly mistakes and was targeted at set-pieces during his first six months in England, and the 24-year-old has admitted United made a conscious decision to work on his scrawny physique.
Comic book character Steve Rogers morphed from a frail pushover into a muscle-bound crusader through an experimental serum, and De Gea has joked about his own Marvel superhero build.
“I was like Captain America in one year!” he told ManUtd.com.
“No, I still do the programme, although not as much as before. It is more of a reduced programme now but certainly I did a lot of gym work at the start and it did have a big impact.”
De Gea’s introduction to life at United was unforgiving. Errors on his debut in the Community Shield and then on his maiden Premier League start indicated it would take time for the European Under-21 Championship winner to settle at United.
Whereas De Gea’s predecessor, the seasoned Edwin van der Sar, had the benefit of four years in the Premier League with Fulham, De Gea could not speak English.
Now, though, he is now confident when conducting interviews in his professional language.
“I actually think the biggest impact is when you are in the dressing room,” De Gea added. “You need it on the field as well, of course, but you need it in the dressing room.
“I think the fact that I have started to do interviews in English has really helped as well, it has helped me to learn more of the language as well.”
De Gea’s percentage of catches to punches has soared from 56.3 per cent in 2011-12 to 91.7 per cent in the current campaign, a fact highlighted by Gary Neville this month.
Neville was unforgiving in his analysis of De Gea’s error to punch a ball that led to Clint Dempsey’s stoppage-time equaliser at Tottenham two years ago but De Gea is adamant he has invariably caught, rather than punched, the ball.
“You might have noticed it now but I think I have always caught them before,” De Gea said.
“You always work in training to try to catch the ball and that is always your first option. That is always the main aim of a goalkeeper.
“As I say, you might have noticed it this season but I have always tried to do that.”
Source – Manchester Evening News