West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone has revealed his former Manchester United team-mate David de Gea reached out to congratulate him on his first England call-up last week.
Johnstone, who came through United’s youth system, worked alongside the Spain international before leaving Old Trafford permanently in 2018 in search of first-team football.
“He texted me when I got the call-up, saying he was happy for me and really proud,” Johnstone told a news conference.
“It’s really nice to hear from someone like that that I trained alongside for a number of years and learned a lot from.
“Just to be around him every day was special,” added Johnstone, after being asked what he took from his time with De Gea.
“To work with someone like that. He was young, playing for Manchester United and Spain.
“You pick stuff up from being around him and watching him and how calm he is and how good he is because he is one of the best. It was great to be around him and learn from that.
“And then obviously I had to go and make my own path and my own career.”
Johnstone on importance of staying a PL goalkeeper
Johnstone admits he always knew he would have to be a Premier League player to be considered for his “dream” role of England goalkeeper.
After leaving United, Johnstone came close to securing promotion from the Championship on multiple occasions with Aston Villa and West Brom, but had to wait until last season to reach the top flight.
Johnstone, who is currently in a relegation fight with Albion and being linked with a potential move to Tottenham, says he agonised about whether he would ever be called up to the national team.
But, after impressing in the Premier League this season, manager Gareth Southgate has trusted Johnstone to replace injured No 1 goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in this month’s squad for a trio of World Cup qualifiers.
“One thing I knew was that I needed to get into the Premier League to have a chance of getting a call up to the England squad,” said Johnstone.
“I fell short a few times with play-offs and stuff in the Championship for getting that chance to be promoted earlier doors and then it finally happened.
“Now, in my first season in the Premier League, I’ve had loads to do and I’ve got the call-up.
“It’s a dream come true and obviously you never shut the door, you never don’t think about it, you think about it all the time.
“You watch the FA TV videos of the goalkeepers training and stuff like that and you want to be a part of it. I knew deep down that I had to be in the Premier League and playing well to get the call-up.”
Asked whether he will consider his future at West Brom if they get relegated, he added: “That side has been parked a little bit.
“I’m just enjoying myself here for the next 10 days working hard.
“When I get back to the club it’s head down, working hard and back to the games and trying to keep West Brom in the Premier League.”