Spain head coach Vicente del Bosque says David de Gea possesses the quality to match the career achievements of Iker Casillas.
The former Real Madrid captain has won the World Cup and back-to-back European Championship titles with the national team, as well as five Liga crowns and three Champions Leagues in a glittering playing career to date.
Casillas, now of Porto, was also handed a special award by the Spanish government on Tuesday in recognition of his achievements in sport.
Manchester United goalkeeper De Gea, who almost replaced Casillas at Madrid during the transfer window, has developed into one of Europe's finest goalkeepers in recent seasons and has emerged as the main threat to the 34-year-old's place in the Spain starting XI.
Del Bosque has no doubt De Gea can emulate the achievements of Casillas, but warned it will not prove an easy task.
"He has the ability to emulate him, yes," he told The Guardian. "We forget sometimes that he has spent four or five seasons as Manchester United's goalkeeper. And if you look at the other keepers they've had, that's the business.
"This is the goal defended by [Peter] Schmeichel, [Edwin] Van der Sar, [Fabien] Barthez: three great goalkeepers. And then along comes this kid and, bit by bit, establishes himself.
"But look, it's very difficult to do what Iker has done, in terms of quality and quantity."
Both goalkeepers are in Del Bosque's squad for this month's friendly matches with England and Belgium.
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