By Alberto Pinero in Madrid
The 22-year-old has received criticism for a lack of consistency since his £18.3 million move in 2011, promoting speculation linking him with a move back to his homeland after a perceived breakdown in the relationship between Spain No.1 Iker Casillas and Los Blancos boss Jose Mourinho.
DE GEA COMES OF AGE FOR UNITED
COMMENT: The youngster proved his doubters wrong with a career-defining show of strength in Madrid
He told reporters after the game: "I am very happy in Manchester. Every day I am happier."
Danny Welbeck's 20th-minute opener was cancelled out by Cristiano Ronaldo's header, with the tie now finely balanced ahead of the return leg at Old Trafford on March 5.
Madrid registered 29 attempts on goal throughout the game, with De Gea earning praise for a near-impenetrable display - emphasised by his scissor-kick goalline clearance to deny Fabio Coentrao in the second half.
However the goalkeeper was keen to highlight the performance of his defence, as the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans shone at centre-back.
He continued: "Stopping to Coentrao? That was just a very quick decision. I was acting on instinct.
"It was a great match. Real Madrid and Manchester United did very well. [Madrid] have a very strong attack, so we needed to be strong in defence.
"Real Madrid will attack at Old Trafford. They know they have to win to advance and we will do our best to stop them."