The Spaniard put Mohamed Salah out of the Champions League final in May with a heavy challenge, sending Liverpool fans into a fit of rage so intense they actually put together a petition for the game to be replayed.
"The only one in my lifetime is Paul Gascoigne and I'm not sure he was developed, I think he was a outcome of a unique talent", Southgate, 48, said of his former team-mate whose final England cap came in 1998.
Criticised for his poor shots-to-goals-conceded ratio at the World Cup, De Gea produced a superb save to deny Rashford's header and preserve Spain's lead in the 35th minute, giving his defence the confidence to shut England out from then.
Rashford, it turned out, was one of the players with a slightly modified role on the basis Southgate had started to suspect that, in his previous England appearances, the Manchester United striker was spending too much time too far away from the opposition goal.
"We knew it was going to be a hard game". "He scored a goal and he was in the penalty box more".
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Shaw was taken off at the start of the second half after a serious-looking injury. "We have to give the other players a start", the manager said.
At the very least, the former Southampton defender looks set to miss England's friendly against Switzerland on Tuesday.
"I don't think we were under any illusions as a coaching team", Southgate said.
"He may have mistakes like everybody else, but we have one of the best in the world".
"That's what I want, to reduce the space and press a lot and against a team with three defenders it was very hard", Luis Enrique said.
"We're seeing that with some of our junior teams".
Southgate also said it was "difficult to tell" if Shaw had lost consciousness on the pitch after the collision, adding: "We'll go through some tests".
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