Courtois: “I’ve become stronger”

Atlético's most featured goalkeeper spent his Christmas holidays in London and Genk

Thibaut Courtois (Standaard.be)

Thibaut Courtois (Standaard.be)

Thibaut Courtois returned to Genk, Belgium to celebrate Christmas with his family.

But that’s not all he did in the few days off he got from Atletico.

On the 26th, the young goalie travelled to London for a series of physical evaluation tests at Chelsea’s training ground.

He visited an ophthalmologic doctor to test his eyes and performed jumping and reaction exercises.

“I will also join a training session and will discuss my future at the club”, Courtois revealed.

“Atlético asked me if I would be interested in a longer stay [in Madrid], but that’s it.”

The tests were positive. “I’ve become stronger”, he stated. “The tests show that I jump 30 cm higher and my reflexes have improved as well.”

“Chelsea were impressed by my handling in stressed situations. It confirms what people have been saying for some time. I remain calm under high pressure.”

“About 200 athletes have undergone these tests and I came out as one of the best. That’s impressive for a 19-year old.”

The Belgian international admitted he sometimes misses his former club.

“Especially their accomodation, the youth department and Guy Martens (Genk’s goalkeeping coach). Atlético have aged facilities, but they’re building a new ground now.”

When asked about Simeone, Courtois stated he had to prove himself again.

He couldn’t say more about next season. “I will have a new evaluation at Chelsea in May.”

Will Courtois be able to convince his new coach? Or is Simeone forced to use him in his starting XI? And will Atleti try to hold onto him for another season?


  • Javi Lozoya

    I don’t like the fact that Courtois is on loan from Chelsea and without any real option of signing him permanently, but I gotta admit that he has been really impressive for his age, he is barely 19 and he came from Belgium, not exactly the world best league but really competitive, it has a lot of promising players, Kevin de Bruyne, Jelle Vossen, Lukaku, Grzegorz Sandomierski etc…, Belgium is producing some interesting talents right now, and except for that big mistake against Madrid where he tripped Benzema (although Benzema was clearly looking for a foul), he has been pretty solid, he has an enormous future, if he keeps gathering experience and keeps improving he is gonna become a world class player like Van Der Sar, Casillas, Oliver Kahn, Jens Lehman, Buffon, Barthez, etc…

  • palc

    He should still be a starter, way better than Asenjo. I do believe and hope he will play for us next season too. Im still ok with the fact that we’re farming him for Chelsea.

    Do you guys think he is better than De Gea? You know, that skinny guy who played for us for a couple of seasons.

  • Javi Lozoya

    You mean “sausage/salchicha” De Gea? (Cristiano said De Gea resembled a sausage but he was a superb GK), anyways, I dislike to say it but I do think Courtois is slighty better than De Gea, Courtois seems very confident and experienced even tough he is only 19, he is very solid on one on one situations, has a great aerial ability on set pieces like free kicks and corners, he rarely makes mistakes, unlike De Gea who has been heavily criticized by the English media and the matches I’ve seen of him, he looks insecure, but he stills has A LOT time to improve his deficiencies, after all Sir Alex signed thinking of him as Van der Sar replacement, and has all his faith in De Gea, and I don’t think Sir Alex did wrong in signing De Gea, after all he has been United manager for over 25 years now, he is at times very rude and stubborn, but he is very wise, and I’m sure De Gea will improve a lot under Fergie’s wing.

  • javi

    Courtois is another example of the failure of our directors. We were in talks with his Belgian team before Chelsea bought him, we should have purchased him then, rather than train him for Chelsea now. As a result we now have Joel in limbo for another year, where he could have been loaned out to get experience during this critical time in his development.

  • DJ_ZA

    I’ve always thought that Courtois’s a great goalkeeper – Belgium’s best since Preud’homme (hope I got the spelling right)…… actually the Belgian team’s not looking too bad at the moment – back to their mid 80’s / early 90’s best. (most of you probably too young to remember).
    Anyway, I’m with palc on this one, the longer Courtois hangs around the better. We’ll worry about his replacement if/when he leaves. I know it sounds short-sighted but we’ve got other players / positions /problems to worry about right now. So lets make the most of his talent while he’s playing for the red & white.

    PS. Gert, I know this isn’t the forum for my questions, but I’ll ask anyway…. Coming from South Africa, I’m always curious to find out (from locals) how political / cultural tension affects sport. In this case, I’d like to get your opinion on whether / how the Flemish vs Walloon dispute affects selection. Are there clubs in Belgium (like Athletic Bilbao who only select Basques) who have a similar selection policy? are there ever disputes in national team selection because of players heritage? or the coaches heritage? or is the dispute only between politicians with the other Belgians living in vrede en harmonie?

  • Gert

    @ DJ_ZA We do have have great goalies, don’t we? Preud’homme, Pfaff, Courtois 😉
    Glad to answer your question here by the way.

    We currently have a Dutch speaking coach and most of the players are from the Flemish region, although almost none of them lives there. If you take a look at the current selection, most of our players play abroad (Courtois – Spain, Kompany, Vermaelen, Fellaini, Lukaku, Dembele Mignolet – UK, Hazard – France, Witsel – Portugal, etc.) so
    I think the players put themselves above this political tensions. The teamspirit in the Belgian national team is very good.
    For all you people playing Fifa, I recommend to choose the Belgian national team. Great goalie, fast wingers, good midfield en solid defense!

    Also in the first division (JPL, Jupiler Pro League), I don’t think players let this political situation come to them. It’s more certain people in their fanbase who are “influenced” by this. Chants like ‘Et des Wallons sont du caca” (And the Waloons are shit”) are heard occasionally. As you might know, there are only 2 teams from the French speaking part of Belgium in the first division (Standard Liege and Mons). And they have Dutch speaking players as well, so we don’t have Ath. Bilbao’s policy over here.

    Apart from soccer, the main problem between French and Dutch speaking people are indeed more in politics and in cities around Brussels where both languages are spoken. I work in Brussels with both Frenchies and Dutchies, and we have had no problems or whatsoever.

    Hope this was any help to you.

  • DJ_ZA

    Thanks Gert.
    Nice to know the teams/players are just getting on with football and not the political crap … and it shows in the way the Belgian team have been improving – good last match against France. They have a fair chance of doing well in 2014 qualification and perhaps they’ll be at Euro 2016?
    Your politicians should chill – 3 languages / cultures (I didn’t forget ze germans) are a walk in the park. We’ve got 12 OFFICIAL languages (and the cultures that go with them) and loads of other minority groups + our very (well-known) cagey past …. it’s a great lesson in tolerance.

    Anyway, alles van die beste vir die Nuwe Jaar en geniet ‘n Super Voetbal 2012!
    Aupa Atleti!