Thibaut Courtois rates himself among the best goalkeepers in world soccer. This lowlight suggests he might not be as good as he thinks he is.
Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Courtois made a huge mistake in his team’s UEFA Champions League game against Zenit St. Petersburg on Tuesday. His 74th-minute error gifted host Zenit the game-tying goal and put teammate Toby Alderweireld‘s name on the scoresheet for all the wrong reasons.
Courtois, 21, watched as Alderweireld’s header sailed toward his far post. He thought it was going out of bounds, but he simply misread the ball’s flight path and watched in agony as it fell inside of the goal.
Chelsea FC has owned Courtois’ contract since 2011, but he has spent the last three seasons on loan at Atletico Madrid. Last season, he won the Zamora Award, which recognizes Spanish soccer’s top goalkeeper and he is reportedly one of Barcelona’s transfer targets. His shot-stopping heroics are even the subject of a popular Internet meme in Spain.
While the Belgian’s reputation has grown in recent years, his future remains in limbo. Chelsea’s veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech remains the No. 1 at Stamford Bridge, and Courtois doesn’t want to return to Chelsea as a backup. Last month, he told reporters that he only needs one hand to count how many goalkeepers are better than him, according to Football Espana.
“I am in my best-ever form and feel that I am among the top five goalkeepers in the world,” he said.
“I’ve grown a lot at Atleti, especially last year when we won the European Super Cup and the Copa del Rey [Spanish Cup], and have made great progress, particularly in terms of speed, reflexes and experience.
“I want to play,” he added when asked about returning to Chelsea. “I don’t want to be sitting on the bench. At Atletico I feel really good and they have allowed me to play in the Champions League. We won’t know anything new until around March.”
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho will ultimately decide who the Blues’ long-term starting goalkeeper will be. Cech has been an ever-present figure at Chelsea since Mourinho’s first arrival in 2004, while Courtois is among the most talented young goalkeepers in the world. Something tells us, Courtois has a lot of work to do before he unseats his 31-year-old rival — if that’s even what he really wants to do.
See Courtois’ error below.
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GIF via 101 Great Goals