Thibaut Courtois is back for the Champions League final: 5 things you may not know about him

Thibaut Courtois is back. The goalkeeper has missed most of the 2023/24 season due to two serious knee injuries, but he has played four matches since returning in April. He hasn’t conceded a goal and there is a good chance he’ll be the starter for Real Madrid in Saturday’s Champions League final.

Curiously, the Belgian could actually have chosen another sporting path, since he comes from a volleyball family. That is just one of the five things you may not have known about Thibaut Courtois.

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 33 years old and plays as a libero, 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

Courtois has invested in the eSports team DUX Gaming. He is known for his love of eSports and he has even been seen sharing the screen with famous streamers, spending a lot of time creating gaming content for social media platforms.  

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. Later, he lifted the Champions League by making numerous saves for Real Madrid in the 2022 final, and this weekend he’ll look to win another.

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