Sports

De Gea, 11 years on: United icon, gaming entrepreneur

By Miguel Ángel Moreno

Madrid, Feb 18 (EFE).- “Keep making those saves, David, and I’ll retweet whatever you like,” Juan Mata said this week as he shared a promotional video for his teammate’s eSports venture. David De Gea, who has earned millions defending Man United’s goal over the past decade plus, has invested a part of his fortune — estimated at 52 million euro — in Rebels Gaming.

Next week, the shot stopper returns to face the club where he began his career, Atletico Madrid, for United’s Champions League Round of 16 first leg match.

The Illescas native travels to Spain in stellar form. His 22 saves in January won him the Premier League’s Player of the Month, an award that a goalkeeper had not obtained since 2016. So far this season he has accumulated 89 saves, becoming a regular savior for a United side beset with defensive problems.

Having spent over a decade in English soccer, De Gea has amassed a net worth of over £46 million (€52 million) according to the ‘Sunday Times’, which in 2021 placed him among the UK’s top 20 earners under-30.

While he is enjoying one of his best patches of form in the United goal, off the pitch he has launched a business project that hints at a life and interests far beyond football: Rebels Gaming.

“Rebels has to do with the feeling he had within the world of soccer, of being someone who plays but who also likes other things, like anime, playing drums, video games…. He felt that his profile was a little different from what was known, and that’s why the name fit him right away,” explains Carles Mayans, Rebels’ marketing director, to Efe.

The goalkeeper decided to create his own eSports organization after having “talked to several teams to collaborate” and found that his motivation was to create one of his own.

Rebels competes in three video games: ‘League of Legends’, the team-based game consisting of reaching the opponent’s base that is the most representative of the competitive scene, the character-based shooter ‘Valorant’ and ‘Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege’, another shooter video game, which is the one that De Gea himself plays the most.

“Rainbow Six is David’s link to video games, because he dedicates many hours to it. In his own words, he dedicates more hours to Rainbow Six than to soccer. Obviously for physical reasons he can’t play so many hours of soccer,” says Mayans.

De Gea’s team – perhaps surprisingly – does not compete in any soccer or sports games. “I imagine that when you spend all day playing soccer, watching soccer and studying soccer like he does, you get home and the last thing you want to see is another ball,” the Rebels marketing director says.

In charge of the sporting side is Alvar Martín Aleñar ‘Araenae’, one of Spain’s eSports pioneers.

The team is based near Madrid airport to facilitate meetings when the goalkeeper goes to see his family in the Spanish capital, and is “totally involved” in the day to day of his electronic squad.

“He is the one who makes the final decisions, we as people who know the sector give him our advice and he is the one who makes the decisions,” confirms the marketing director of De Gea’s ‘eSports’ project, who returns to Madrid eleven years later turned into a United idol and eSports entrepreneur. EFE

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