Reuters Manchester, UK
Nov 28, 2018, 06.04 PM
Manchester United's David de Gea was hailed as the best keeper in the world by his manager Jose Mourinho after the Spaniard's amazing second-half save was instrumental in his side qualifying for the Champions League last 16 on November 27.
"He is the best goalkeeper in the world. If our ambitions are to have the best in the world, we have to keep him," Mourinho told reporters after one extraordinary save in the Group H game again demonstrated the Spaniard's value to United.
"First of all let me send a message to my lovers and say that I play Champions League for 14 years and I qualify 14 times. And the year, the two years where I didn't play Champions League I won the Europa League twice. So, in 16 years, 14 times I qualify and twice I play Europa League and I won. Just a little curiosity for my lovers and the lovers of the stats," Mourinho added.
Following a last-gasp 1-0 win over Young Boys at Old Trafford, Mourinho was also adamant that it was crucial to United's ambitions to keep the 28-year-old, who has been linked with French champions Paris St Germain.
The home side had been labouring and, with the Swiss champions growing in confidence, a 70th-minute Ulisses Garcia shot took a deflection and looked to have put the visitors ahead until De Gea flung himself backwards to claw the ball to safety.
Goal-line technology demonstrated that the ball was on the line when he somehow managed to perform his acrobatic heroics.
United went on to grab a 91st-minute winner thanks to a Marouane Fellaini strike, with the Belgian appearing to touch the ball with his arm as he swivelled to strike it.
Spain international De Gea has been at the centre of a drawn-out contract saga at United, who have failed to nail him down with a new deal this year. The most recent British media reports say he will move to PSG in the close season.
Mourinho, who went on to pick up and hurl a drinks container to the ground after the winning goal, admitted his "relief" that it meant United would now not have to suffer a nervous night in Valencia in the final round of group matches.
His United side, though, had gone through a now-familiar lengthy struggle to earn the win, raising more questions about their chances of going much further in the knockout stages.
The Portuguese coach also had a reminder for his 'lovers' by telling his critics that he has qualified for the Champions League 14 times and won the Europa League twice.
'First of all let me send a message to my lovers and say that I play Champions League for 14 years and I qualify 14 times,' Mourinho said.