Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea has credited the Old Trafford club's strength and conditioning coaches with helping take his game to the next level after revealing that a specialist gym programme is the secret behind his incredible body transformation.
The Red Devils stopper has increased in size significantly since joining from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2011, and likened his change in physical appearance to fictional cartoon superhero Captain America.
In the early days, De Gea's skinny frame raised doubts about his capability to cut in the Premier League, but his development over the past three-and-a-half-years has been so impressive that the 24-year-old is now regarded as one of the best custodians in the division.
"I have been here for four years now and I think that every aspect of my goalkeeping has improved," he explained in a Q&A session with ManUtd.com. "It is hard to single out one area because we have worked and improved on everything."
Asked specifically about the strength and conditioning programme that he's been following since signing for Manchester United, De Gea said: "I was like Captain America in one year (laughs)!
"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."
Under the new tutelage of Louis van Gaal the Spain international has been by far and away Manchester United's best player this season, earning his side numerous points in the Premier League thanks to a number of man-of-the-match performances.
With a weakened defence deployed for the majority of the 2014/15 campaign, De Gea's fine form has come to the fore this term, but despite the widespread praise he has received from fellow players and pundits the Red Devils ace is adamant he still has plenty of room for improvement.
"No matter how excellent your form is, you can always get better" - David De Gea
"No matter how excellent your form is, you can always get better and there are always aspects of your game that you can improve," he added. "You can improve everything.
"No matter how well people think you are playing, or how well you think you are playing yourself, it is always a case of working on every facet of your game. There is hopefully more to come."
De Gea's high level of performance has understandably attracted admiring glances from a host of admirers - including Real Madrid - but Manchester United are confident of keeping the in-demand star at the Theatre of Dreams, with The Independent reporting earlier this month that a new £140,000-a-week contract will be enough to secure the Spaniard's long-term future.
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