Sam Johnstone has revealed how David de Gea urged him to seal promotion with West Brom last season.
None more so, perhaps, than De Gea, who he still keeps in contact with.
Johnstone says there was no one better to learn off as a young goalkeeper than the Spaniard – and that the duo still have respect for each other even after going their separate ways.
So much so that, when the Baggies were battling at the top of the Championship last season, De Gea sent Johnstone a message urging him to get the job done.
“We still keep in contact now. He did message me last year and he said ‘I want to see you in the Premier League’. It’s nice to get messages like that,” Johnstone told WBA TV.
“Just watching him every day. In the gym, just around the place, training. Before games, when we travelled, he was very relaxed and confident in his own ability, and obviously very good.
“In warm-ups, watching him, you can’t get much better from that. I was learning from him every single day. He’s a good person.”
Johnstone departed United for regular first-team football two years ago after a series of loan moves.
Yet he still has fond memories of his time at Old Trafford and says he received the best football education possible to succeed off the pitch as well as on it.
“It was great. It was unbelievable, really. It’s not just the discipline on the pitch – they teach you everything as a person, growing up,” Johnstone added.
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United get their Premier League campaign back underway on Saturday when they welcome strugglers West Brom to Old Trafford.
The under-pressure Reds came from behind to beat Everton last time out thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ double and Edinson Cavani’s first goal for United.
The players are returning from the two-week international break, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping to have as few injury and fitness concerns as possible among the stars coming back from international duty.
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“You are taught respect, your schoolwork is important – it’s not pushed to one side. And your football. They get the right balance.
“It was great, you train with some of the best players in the world. I was lucky to grow up at Man United, but it was time to go. I’ve not been there for four or five years, now.
“You want to play every week.”