The 23-year-old was United’s key performer in their 2-1 win over Everton on Sunday and the Spaniard earned glowing reviews for the way he saved a Leighton Baines penalty and acrobatically denied Leon Osman and Bryan Oviedo.
“It was probably one of my best performances for Manchester United. I was really happy about that,” De Gea said.
“Games like that helps your confidence grow.”
But three years ago De Gea could barely muster a smile by the time he got home after matches.
His dream move from Atletico Madrid immediately turned into a nightmare when he was blamed for both goals in United’s narrow Community Shield win over Manchester City.
Errors followed against Basle and Benfica and De Gea also cost United points against West Bromwich Albion and Blackburn among others.
De Gea was struggling to bulk up to help him cope with the demands of playing in the Premier League and he was finding the move away from his family to a foreign country extremely difficult.
At times, the pressure proved too intense for the young goalkeeper, who had played less than two years’ worth of first-team football before he moved to Manchester.
“Sometimes,” De Gea said when asked whether he ever thought about leaving.
“It’s difficult when you get a lot of criticism like I did. But I kept strong and I always tried to remain positive.
“Those early days were difficult for me and my family. But when you play for a big club like Manchester United (being criticised) is normal when you don’t play well.”
Although he does not remember the early days of his fledgling career fondly, De Gea is glad he went through the experience as he feels it toughened him up and made him the goalkeeper he is today.
“What happened at the start helped me be the player and man I am now,” he said.
“When you have bad moments you have to improve. You have to become stronger to deal with it and I believe I have become stronger. I am much better now.”