After joining Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois traveled through the choppy waters. The best goalkeeper in the last World Cup in Russia discovered how tough it is to play for Los Blancos. The expectations and skill levels are needed to be higher enough to meet the demands. There was a time when he became a laughing stock and the talk about the inclusion of legendary Kaylor Navas gained momentum.
Courtois faced a tough competition to cement his place in the team and decided to turn things around. Otherwise, it would be tough for him to stay at Santiago Bernabeu.
He worked hard.
Studied his shortcomings minutely.
Now, he is the best in the business.
In a recent interview Cadena SER, which is published in Marca, Thibaut Courtois talked about various topics.
Thibaut Courtois has revealed that he would be happy to end his career at Real Madrid.
“I’d love to stay many more years here.”
“It would be great to spend the rest of my career here.”
“I’m sure people will see the best Hazard,” the ‘keeper said. “He’s desperate to show what he can do. He’s been very unlucky with injuries, but he’ll be back soon and making a difference to the team.”
Courtois also discussed his own recovery from injury.
“I’m doing well now. After the Levante game, I felt something in my groin, but it was only a small thing.”
“I probably could’ve played with Belgium if we had had a super important match, but it was better to rest given the number of matches we’ve got coming up. I’ve been resting for a few days now and sometimes that’s the best thing to do for your body.”
Courtois, who revealed he was given the nickname ‘the giraffe’ by ex-Real Madrid defender Sergio Reguilon, was candid about his good form of late, and the criticism that has sometimes preceded it.
“The saves I’ve made recently have attracted more attention because they’ve been at key moments,” he noted.
“We could’ve been a few more goals up, and then those saves wouldn’t have been talked about as much. I try to do my job and get us the three points. And I’d rather be on hand a couple of times a match, rather than having to make six or seven saves.”
“I don’t have to respond to anyone [who criticizes me]. I know what I can do in the pitch, and the situation I’m in here. Harsh criticism is easy to make, and it serves to generate debates.”
“I listen to the people around me that give me constructive criticism because I know when I’ve had a good or a bad game. It can affect you [the criticism], we’re all human and we have emotions. But you’ve got to look at who is saying it.”
“I always know if a goal was unsavable or whether I could have done more. For me, it’s about continuing to work hard and that will result in consistency.”
David de Gea is another ‘keeper who has suffered a lot, but Courtois was supportive of his fellow gloveman who he was pilloried after Spain’s UEFA Nations League defeat to Ukraine.
“It wasn’t a big mistake,” Courtois said. “He was slightly out of position, but those decisions come off for you sometimes, and sometimes they don’t.”
“Against Switzerland he made a great save and earlier in the Ukraine game he made some excellent catches.”
Courtois is still focused on improving himself, and he revealed the steps he has taken to do just that.
“I was always quite weak with my feet,” he commented. “But I’ve done a lot of work to improve that, and I help us build from the back now.”
“Being Real Madrid’s keeper is a big responsibility, given the pressure, there is, and how offensively we play. And off the pitch, I’ve got a personal trainer who helps me with my strength and explosiveness, as well as a chef who helps me eat properly. As you get older these are things you have to think about.”
The part of his evolution as the Real Madrid ‘keeper has been about gaining the confidence of Zidane and also helping people forget about his predecessor, Keylor Navas.
“Keylor won everything here. He is a great keeper and he is showing it again at Paris Saint-Germain. But now it’s a new era and I want to help the team win things without thinking of the past.”
“Zidane gives me a lot of confidence now. I’ve always felt he trusted me and that’s important, particularly in the tough moments like last season. Football is as much about the mental side as anything, and you need to be feeling good in that aspect to play well.”
“I’ve learned a lot from Zidane. [Former coach at Atletico Madrid] Diego Simeone was more about letting the opposition have the ball and keeping solid defensively, but you learn a lot by playing in different ways.”
Courtois also talked about a number of important individuals in the game such as Sergio Ramos and the Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo rivalry.
“It’s so important that Ramos stays. I always say to him that I want to win a UEFA Champions League with him. I’ve always admired him, except for on one occasion in Lisbon [when Ramos scored against Courtois in the Champions League final 2014]. As for Messi and Cristiano, we’ve just got to enjoy them while we can.”
And finally, a word on the departed Gareth Bale.
“I wish Gareth the best of luck, even though he hasn’t joined London’s best team,” Courtois said.