Real Madrid’s goalkeeper began his career away from the goal posts and followed a different path to the rest of his family. Here’s why Thibaut Courtois is such an interesting character.
He was a left-back when he was younger
The Belgian is currently one of the best goalkeepers in the world, but he didn’t actually start out as a goalkeeper when he began playing football. Courtois played as a left-back for his first team, which was Bilzerse Waltwilder. It was only when he arrived at Genk that they saw his skills for playing between the sticks and decided to give him a shot in this position. It wasn’t until he was seven or eight years old that he put on the gloves for the first time, but then his prowess saw him move up all the way to the senior team to make his debut in 2009 against Gent.
His family played volleyball
Although Courtois has spent his whole life playing football, his family loved a different sport. The Belgian player has revealed that his gifts as a goalkeeper are partly due to genetics, since his parents used to play volleyball. In an interview with Real Madrid TV, he explained: “They were volleyball players and it’s a sport where you need the tall people to get to the ground very quickly. Ever since I was a child, I used to hit the ground in the garden and play beach volleyball. That has also made me the goalkeeper I am, and it helped me a lot. Being two metres tall and being able to get down fast means you can parry many balls.” Although his parents didn’t play at the professional level, his sister Valérie does. Valérie Courtois is 31 years old and plays as a libero for Stade Français Paris Saint Cloud and for the Belgian national volleyball team, while she was named the Best Libero of the European Championships in 2013.
His love for celebrating teammates’ goals
The Real Madrid goalkeeper once discussed the way he celebrates his teammates’ goals and the difference between doing so at home or in front of rival fans, in an interview with his club’s official media. He said: “I always do a little jump. When we play at home I celebrate with the fans, but in the away stadiums they aren’t always happy with you, and they whistle. I always touch both posts and the crossbar and, when my teammates come back to our side of the pitch, we make a gesture with our fingers.”
His role with DUX Gaming and DUX Madrid
In partnership with Real Betis’ Borja Iglesias, Courtois owns the eSports team DUX Gaming. Moreover, in June 2020, they bought the Madrid football team Inter de Madrid, which was renamed DUX Internacional de Madrid and which plays in the Primera División RFEF league. The Real Madrid goalkeeper is, therefore, known for his love of eSports and he has even been seen sharing the screen with famous streamers.
He was the Atlético de Madrid goalkeeper when Real Madrid won La Décima
Courtois joined Real Madrid in August 2018, but just a few years earlier he had faced Real Madrid in one of the most important matches in Los Merengues’ history: the UEFA Champions League final in May 2014 in which Real Madrid managed to win La Décima. Courtois was in goal for Atlético de Madrid in that final, which ended with a 4-1 victory for his current team.