Thibaut Nicolas Marc Courtois (Dutch: [tiˈboː kuːrˈtʋaː]; French: [tibo kuʁtwa]; born 11 May 1992) is a Belgian professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Premier League club Chelsea and the Belgium national team.
Courtois playing for Chelsea in 2014
|Full name||Thibaut Nicolas Marc Courtois|
|Date of birth||11 May 1992|
|Place of birth||Bree, Belgium|
|Height||1.99 m (6 ft 6 in)|
|2011–2014||→ Atlético Madrid (loan)||111||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22:49, 10 March 2018 (UTC).
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 10 November 2017
Courtois graduated through the youth system of Genk, and aged 18, he played a key role in the team's Belgian Pro League victory. In July 2011 he joined Chelsea for a reported £8 million, and was immediately loaned to Atlético Madrid. In three seasons there, he won the Europa League in 2012, the Copa del Rey in 2013 and the La Liga title in 2014. He also won the Ricardo Zamora Trophy for best goalkeeper in La Liga, for his performances in his two latter seasons. Courtois returned to Chelsea in July 2014, and in his first season he helped them win the League Cup and the Premier League title.
Courtois made his senior international debut in October 2011, becoming the youngest goalkeeper to represent Belgium. He has since earned over 50 caps and appeared at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2016.
Born in Bree, Courtois began his career with local side Bilzen V.V., as a left back. Soon after, in 1999, he joined Racing Genk at the age of seven, and it was there that he was converted into a goalkeeper.
After progressing through the Genk youth system, Courtois, aged 16 years and 341 days, made his first team début for Genk on 17 April 2009 against Gent. He was a key figure in Genk's title victory in the 2010–11 season in the Belgian Pro League. He received the Goalkeeper of the Year and Genk's Player of the Year award, only conceding 32 goals over the course of 40 league matches and keeping 14 clean sheets for Genk.
Loan to Atlético Madrid
Within weeks of joining Chelsea, Courtois was sent on a season-long loan to Atlético Madrid. He was given the number 13 shirt by Atlético, previously worn by David de Gea who had transferred to Manchester United.
Courtois made his debut for Atlético in a 4–0 UEFA Europa League victory over Vitória de Guimarães on 25 August, and three days later kept a clean sheet on his La Liga debut, a goalless draw against Osasuna at the Vicente Calderón Stadium. Courtois became first-choice goalkeeper over Sergio Asenjo, keeping four clean sheets in his first six La Liga games. On 26 November 2011, Courtois received his first red card of his professional career after fouling Real Madrid's Karim Benzema for a penalty in the Madrid derby. Cristiano Ronaldo put the penalty past substitute goalkeeper Asenjo as Atlético lost 1–4. Atlético reached the 2012 UEFA Europa League Final, and Courtois kept a clean sheet as the club won 3–0 over fellow Spanish side Athletic Bilbao.
Courtois' loan to Atlético was extended to cover the 2012–13 season. His first game of the loan extension was against parent club Chelsea in the 2012 UEFA Super Cup final in Monaco, which ended in a 4–1 victory for Atlético Madrid. Later in the season Courtois set a new Atlético Madrid record of 820 minutes without conceding a goal at the Estadio Vicente Calderon, ended by being beaten in a 1–0 loss to Real Sociedad. Atlético reached the 2013 Copa del Rey Final, and Courtois was named man of the match in a 2–1 victory against Real, the first time that Atlético had beaten their city rivals in 14 years.
When Atlético were drawn to play Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final, it was reported that a clause in Courtois' contract required Atlético to pay Chelsea €3 million per match if they selected him against his parent club, and that Atlético could not afford such a sum. UEFA made it clear that considerations of sporting integrity made such a clause "null, void and unenforceable", and confirmed that Atlético were free to select Courtois without making any such payment.
By conceding the fewest goals in a substantial number of matches during the 2013–14 season, Courtois made an important contribution to Atletico's 2013–14 La Liga title, their first since 1996. Thus, he was nominated as the best goalkeeper in the league, alongside Willy Caballero of Málaga CF and Keylor Navas of Levante UD. Atletico, however, lost the UEFA Champions League Final 1–4 against neighbours Real Madrid on 28 May in Lisbon.
In June 2014, Chelsea manager José Mourinho confirmed that Courtois would return to Chelsea for the upcoming season. He was assigned the number 13 kit number, last worn by Victor Moses. On 18 August, Mourinho announced that Courtois would start the Premier League opener against Burnley in place of Petr Čech. Although he conceded the first goal to Scott Arfield at Turf Moor, Chelsea won 3–1. Courtois kept his first Premier League clean sheet in his second game, making several crucial saves in a 2–0 home win over Leicester City.
On 11 September 2014, Courtois signed a new five-year contract with Chelsea, keeping him at the club until 2019. Upon signing Courtois said: "It’s really nice to have signed this new contract for five years."
Courtois suffered a head injury in the first half of Chelsea's 2–0 home win over Arsenal on 5 October due to a collision with Alexis Sánchez; he was substituted and then taken to hospital. He was then treated for a minor cut to his ear and released from hospital that night.
He won his first trophy with Chelsea on 1 March 2015, as they defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2–0 in the League Cup Final, with Čech instead playing in that match; Chelsea also finished the season as league champions.
Courtois opened the season by playing in the 2015 FA Community Shield on 2 August, a 1–0 loss to Arsenal. Six days later, as the Premier League campaign opened with a home fixture against Swansea City, he was given a straight red card for conceding a penalty with a foul on Bafétimbi Gomis, who converted the penalty past replacement Asmir Begović for a 2–2 draw. On his return on 23 August, Courtois saved a penalty from James Morrison in a 3–2 win at West Bromwich Albion. Courtois suffered a leg injury in training on 11 September which required surgery and meant that he was expected to miss the next three months of competition.
On 16 April, he was sent off at home to Manchester City for conceding a penalty with a foul on Fernandinho; Sergio Agüero converted it past Begović to seal a 3–0 win. He became the sixth Premier League goalkeeper to be sent off twice in the same season.
On 17 August 2016 Courtois dismissed any transfer rumours and stated he would stay at Chelsea for many years to come. Ten days later in the 3–0 home victory over Burnley, Courtois kept the first clean sheet of the season and broke a run of 13 home Premier League games without a clean sheet since November 2015. Chelsea won all their league matches from October to December with Courtois keeping a clean sheet in all five.
Courtois was first called up to the Belgium squad in October 2011 and made his debut the following month in a friendly 0–0 draw against France at the Stade de France, making him the youngest goalkeeper to play for the Belgian national team.
2014 World Cup
Courtois played every minute during the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign, as Belgium qualified for its first major tournament since the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Throughout these qualifiers, he kept six clean sheets in ten matches.
On 13 May 2014, Courtois was named in the squad to go to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. At the tournament, he played all five games of the Belgian team, starting with a 2–1 win against Algeria in Belo Horizonte. Courtois then managed to keep consecutive clean sheets in 1–0 wins against Russia and South Korea as the Red Devils reached the quarter-finals.
Courtois played every minute during Belgium's first eight games of their UEFA Euro 2016 qualification campaign, helping seal qualification for the first time in 16 years. However, he missed their last two games through injury.
Courtois and his side made it to the quarterfinal, where they lost to Wales despite taking an early lead. Afterwards, Courtois hinted that Belgium coach Marc Wilmots was at fault for the loss and also stated that the defeat was the "biggest disappointment" of his career.
In February 2014, Courtois caused some stir in the national team, by saying of Simon Mignolet, his rival for the starting goalkeeper spot, "You have to know how to stay humble and respectful, and he should remember that." This was despite the fact that in previous interviews, Mignolet had only said that it was his ambition to keep working and try to regain his spot in the national team.
Style of play
Considered a highly promosing prospect in his youth, Courtois subsequently established himself as one of the best players in the world in his position. Due to his wide range of skills, he has been described as a "complete goalkeeper", with few weaknesses. A consistent keeper, he possesses an excellent positional sense, good mentality, composure, strength of character, and an ability to communicate well with his defenders; he also excels in one on one situations, due to his ability to time his runs effectively when rushing out of goal to face opponents. An excellent shot-stopper between the posts, he has also distinguished himself for his agility and quick reflexes, in spite of his size and imposing physique. Due to his height and reach, he excels in the air, and is also known for his command of his area, as well as his excellent technique, anticipation, handling, and confidence when coming off his line to claim crosses.
Outside of football
Thibaut's sister Valérie is a volleyball player, who plays as a libero for Budowlani Łódź and Belgium. His parents also were volleyball players, and he played the sport in his childhood but decided to focus on football when he was 12.
On 26 May 2015, his Spanish girlfriend Marta Domínguez gave birth to their daughter, Adriana. In April 2017, it was confirmed that Courtois and Domínguez have ended their relationship. Courtois also has a son, Nicolas, with Domínguez, born in 2017.
Inspired by Courtois' pose from a particular save in January 2013, a Colombian fan created a new widespread social media meme called ‘Thibauting’ to pay homage to the Belgian goalkeeper. In November 2013, the word was included in a shortlist composed by leading Dutch dictionary Van Dale to be polled to determine the best new sports/amusement word of the year in Belgium, and ended second. The term is based on and pronounced the same way as "Tebowing", and is also similar to the worldwide ‘planking’ meme which was popular in 2011.
|Club||Season||League||National Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other||Total|
|Atlético Madrid (loan)||2011–12||37||0||0||0||—||15[a]||0||—||52||0|
|Belgium national team|
- Atlético Madrid
- La Liga: 2013–14
- Copa del Rey: 2012–13
- UEFA Europa League: 2011–12
- UEFA Super Cup: 2012
- UEFA Champions League: Runner-up 2013–14
- Belgian Professional Goalkeeper of the Year (1): 2011
- La Liga Zamora Trophy: 2013, 2014
- La Liga Goalkeeper of the Year – LFP Awards: 2013
- Best Belgian Player Abroad: 2013, 2014
- ESM Team of the Year: 2013–14
- UEFA Champions League Team of the Season: 2013–14
- FIFPro World XI 2nd team: 2014
- London Football Awards Goalkeeper of the Year: 2015
- Belgian Sportsman of the year: 2014
- Premier League Golden Glove: 2016–17
- Acta del Partido celebrado el 28 de agosto de 2011, en Madrid – Atlético Madrid vs Osasuna; RFEF, 28 August 2011 (in Spanish)
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- "Thibaut Courtois Premier League Player Profile". Premier League official website. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
- Includes cup competitions such as Belgian Pro League, La Liga and Premier League
- Includes cup competitions such as Belgian Cup, Copa del Rey,and FA Cup
- Thibaut Courtois at National-Football-Teams.com
- "Thibaut Courtois – national football team player". eu-football.info.
- Thibaut Courtois at Soccerway
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