13 fun facts about Thibaut Courtois

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Did You Know Thibaut Courtois
Everything you need to know about Real Madrid's wall Thibaut Courtois!

Thibaut Courtois is a Belgian professional footballer who currently plays as a goalkeeper for the Spanish club Real Madrid and the Belgian national team. He was born on May 11, 1992, in Bree, Belgium.

Courtois began his professional career at Genk, a Belgian football club, and quickly established himself as one of the most promising young goalkeepers in Europe. His performances caught the attention of Chelsea, and he joined the London-based club in 2011.

After spending three seasons on loan at Atlético Madrid, where he won numerous individual awards and helped the club win the Liga title in the 2013-14 season, Courtois returned to Chelsea and became the club's first-choice goalkeeper. During his time at Chelsea, he won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup, and the League Cup.

In 2018, Courtois signed for Real Madrid, one of the biggest and most successful football clubs in the world. He quickly established himself as the club's first-choice goalkeeper and has won numerous individual awards and accolades, including being named the best goalkeeper in the UEFA Champions League in the 2021-22 season.

Courtois has also been a key player for the Belgian national team, helping them reach the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where they finished third. He has won over 100 caps for Belgium and is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

But what are some of the most interesting fun facts about Real Madrid's unsung hero?

  1. Started as a left-back
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    Started as a left-back

    Born in the city of Bree in Flanders, a northern region of Belgium, Courtois joined local side Bilzen V.V, where he played as a left-back.

    However, in 1999, he joined Racing Genk, the club where he would go on to make his professional debut, where he was converted into a goalkeeper.

  2. Courtois could've been a volleyball player

    Coming from a family full of volleyball players, Courtois played volleyball until the age of 12, when he decided to focus completely on football.

    His sister, Valérie Courtois, represents the Belgium women's national volleyball team, while his parents were volleyball players too.

  3. Youngest goalkeeper to represent Belgium

    Courtois received his first international call-up in October 2011, making his debut for the Belgium national team the following month on November 15 against France at the Stade de France.

    Aged 19 years and 187 days, the Real Madrid custodian became the youngest goalkeeper to play for the Red Devils, a record that still stands today.

  4. The only goalkeeper to earn 100 caps for Belgium
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    The only goalkeeper to earn 100 caps for Belgium

    When Belgium took the field against Croatia in their final group game at the 2022 World Cup, Courtois made his 100th appearance for the national team, becoming the first goalkeeper in Belgium history to reach the landmark.

  5. Second player to win the league with both Madrid outfits
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    Second player to win the league with both Madrid outfits

    When Real Madrid won the league title in the 2019-20 season, Courtois became the first player since José Luis Pérez-Payá in 1954 to have won La Liga with both Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid.

    He had won the league with Los Rojiblancos in the 2013-14 season.

    In the same season, the two city rivals clashed in the UEFA Champions League final. Courtois ended up on the losing side and Los Blancos won 4-1 to clinch their 10th European title.

  6. A big NBA fan

    Standing at 6ft 6in, Courtois could have probably been a basketball player in another universe. However, being a footballer hasn't kept him away from basketball.

    The Belgian is often seen attending NBA games in the US and also broadcasts the 'NBA 2K Sundays' show on his Twitch channel, where football and basketball players play the basketball video game against each other.

  7. Courtois took part in a virtual F1 race

    Courtois' love for games goes beyond just basketball, as the Real Madrid #1 took part in the 2021 F1 Virtual Grand Prix as an Alfa Romeo driver.

  8. A word called 'Thibauting' was coined after him

    To honour the Belgian custodian, a Colombian fan invented the popular social media meme 'Thibauting' after being inspired by Courtois' posture on one particular save in January 2013.

    The word came in second place in a survey conducted by the top Dutch dictionary Van Dale in November 2013 to choose the greatest new sports/entertainment word of the year in Belgium.

    The phrase is based on 'Tebowing', which is pronounced similarly, and is related to the global 'planking' meme that gained popularity in 2011.

  9. Most saves in a single Champions League season

    Courtois was one of the heroes of Real Madrid's incredible run during the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League, helping his team win their 14th European title.

    The 30-year-old made an astonishing 59 saves in the competition, the most in history ever since Opta began collecting data in the 2003-04 season, with an 80.6 save percentage.

    He also made nine saves in the final against Liverpool, the most ever in a Champions League final.

    Thibaut Courtois made 59 saves during the 2021/22 Champions League campaign, the most ever recorded in a single season.

    He also made nine saves in the final, the most ever recorded. 🙌#TrophéeYachine #BallondOr pic.twitter.com/uLUt2QsYzx

    — Squawka (@Squawka) October 17, 2022
  10. Courtois' first-ever red card was for a foul on Karim Benzema
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    Courtois' first-ever red card was for a foul on Karim Benzema

    Atlético Madrid travelled to the Santiago Bernabéu for their first league encounter of the 2011-12 season on November 27, 2011.

    In the 22nd minute of the game, Courtois fouled Benzema inside the box and gave away a penalty. The Belgian was handed a straight red for his foul, which was his first-ever sending off in senior football.

    It's amusing that he received his first-ever red for fouling the player who is now the captain of the team for whom he plays.

  11. Courtois is a polyglot

    Courtois has mastered five languages: Dutch, English, Spanish, German and French. He can speak fluently in all these aforementioned languages.

  12. Courtois' idol: Iker Casillas

    Courtois was a big Real Madrid fan when he was a child, and idolised Iker Casillas, the then-Real Madrid #1, who inspired the young Belgian.

    “I remember Iker playing his first games. I watched him when I was just a kid and it made me watch Real Madrid more. My mother is a physiotherapist, and she had a patient who was always going to matches and they brought me back a flag or an Iker t-shirt and from there I kept following the club and I dreamed that I would make it here,” he said after Madrid won the Spanish Super Cup in January 2020.

  13. Nicknames

    Courtois has been called many nicknames, such as The Wall or The Octopus.

    However, in 2019, his then-Real Madrid teammate Sergio Reguilon called the Belgian goalkeeper a giraffe due to his height...and, unsurprisingly, the name stuck.