Thibaut Courtois

Thibaut Courtois

Courtois playing for Chelsea in 2014
Personal information
Full name Thibaut Nicolas Marc Courtois[1]
Date of birth (1992-05-11) 11 May 1992
Place of birth Bree, Belgium
Height 1.99 m (6 ft 6 12 in)[2]
Playing position Goalkeeper
Club information
Current team
Number 13
Youth career
1997–1999 Bilzen V.V.
1999–2009 Genk
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2009–2011 Genk 41
2011– Chelsea 67 (0)
2011–2014Atlético Madrid (loan) 111 (0)
National team
2009–2010 Belgium U18 4 (0)
2011– Belgium 45 (0)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 20 November 2016 (UTC).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 10 October 2016

Thibaut Nicolas Marc Courtois (Dutch pronunciation: [tibo kurtwa]; French pronunciation: [tibo kuʁtwa]; born 11 May 1992) is a Belgian professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for English Premier League club Chelsea and the Belgium national team. [3][4][5][6]

Courtois graduated through the youth system of his local side Genk, and progressed into the senior team, where at the tender age of 18, he played a key role in the team's Belgian Pro League victory. In July 2011 Courtois joined Chelsea for a reported £8 million, and was immediately loaned to Atlético Madrid.[7] Courtois spent three highly successful seasons on loan with Atlético, winning 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, awarded to the best goalkeeper in La Liga, for his performances in the 2012–13 and 2013–14 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 ever goalkeeper to represent Belgium. He has since earned over 40 caps and appeared at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2016.

Club career

Early career

Born in Bree, Courtois began his career with local side Bilzen V.V.,[8] 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.


Courtois at Genk during the 2010–11 season

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.[9][10]


In July 2011 Courtois joined Premier League club Chelsea for a reported €9 million, signing a five-year deal.[11][12]

Loan to Atlético Madrid

Courtois playing for Atlético Madrid in 2013

Within weeks of joining Chelsea, Courtois was sent on a season-long loan to Atlético Madrid.[13] He was given the number 13 shirt by Atlético, which had previously been worn by David de Gea prior to his transfer to Manchester United in June 2011.[14]

2011–12 season

Courtois made his debut for Atlético in a 4–0 UEFA Europa League victory over Vitória de Guimarães on 25 August,[15] and three days later kept a clean sheet on his La Liga debut, a goalless draw against Osasuna at the Vicente Calderón Stadium.[16] Courtois became first-choice goalkeeper over Sergio Asenjo, keeping four clean sheets in his first six La Liga games.[17][18][19][20][21] 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.[22] 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.[23]

2012–13 season

Courtois' loan to Atlético was extended to cover the 2012–13 season.[24] 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,[25] ended by being beaten in a 1–0 loss to Real Sociedad.[26] Atlético reached the 2013 Copa del Rey Final, and Courtois was named man of the match[27] in a 2–1 victory against Real, the first time that Atlético had beaten their city rivals in 14 years.

2013–14 season

For the 2013–14 season, Courtois' loan to Atlético was extended by a further 12 months.[28]

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.[29][30]

By conceding the fewest goals in a substantial amount 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.[31] Atletico, however, lost the UEFA Champions League Final 1–4 against neighbours Real Madrid on 28 May in Lisbon.

2014–15 season

Courtois playing for Chelsea in 2014

In June 2014, Chelsea manager José Mourinho confirmed that Courtois would return to Chelsea for the upcoming season.[32] He was assigned the number 13 kit number, last worn by Victor Moses.[33] 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.[34] 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.[35]

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."[36]

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.[37] He was then treated for a minor cut to his ear and released from hospital that night.[38]

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;[39] Chelsea also finished the season as league champions.

2015–16 season

Courtois opened the season by playing in the 2015 FA Community Shield on 2 August, a 1–0 loss to Arsenal.[40] 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.[41] On his return on 23 August, Courtois saved a penalty from James Morrison in a 3–2 win at West Bromwich Albion.[42] 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.[43]

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.[44]

2016–17 season

On 15 August 2016, Courtois started off the season with a 2–1 home victory over West Ham United. On 17 August 2016 Courtois dismissed any transfer rumours and stated he would stay at Chelsea for many years to come. [45] On 27 August 2016, 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, with their last being in a 2-0 win over Norwich in November 2015.[46] On 11 September 2016, Courtois received a yellow and gave away a penalty in a 2–2 draw against Swansea City when he ended up being stranded and tripped Sigurdsson. Although the trip denied a goal-scoring opportunity, it was deemed to be accidental which only resulted in a booking rather than a sent off after the rule change at the beginning of the season.[47]

Chelsea won all their EPL matches in the month of October with Courtois keeping a clean sheet in each game. This is the first time Chelsea has five consecutive clean sheets since August 2010 when they had a run of six consecutive Premier League games without conceding.[48]

International career

Courtois was first called up to the Belgium squad in October 2011[49][50] 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 ever play for the Belgian national team.[51][52][53]

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.[54] 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.[55] At the tournament, he played all five games of the Belgian team, starting with a 2–1 win against Algeria in Belo Horizonte.[56] Courtois then managed to keep consecutive clean sheets in 1–0 wins against Russia and South Korea. In the round of 16 against the United States he also kept a clean sheet during the regular playing time, but conceded one goal in the extra time and later also the decisive Argentinian goal by Gonzalo Higuaín in the quarter-final, which Belgium got eliminated in.

Euro 2016

Courtois played every minute during Belgium's first eight games of their UEFA Euro 2016 qualification campaign, helping seal Belgium's qualification for the first time since co-hosting UEFA Euro 2000. However, he missed their last two games through injury.[57] Even though he had an under-performing season with Chelsea, Courtois was selected ahead of Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet in the tournament. Courtois faced his future club manager, Antonio Conte's Italian side in the first match, where he lost in a 2–0 loss.[58] Courtois and his side made it to the quarterfinal, where they faced Wales. Although Belgium had the early lead, Wales came back in the second-half with three goals as Belgium crashes out of the Euros. After the defeat, in a post-match interview, 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.[59]


In February 2014, Courtois caused some stir in the national team, by saying of his rival for starting goalkeeper Simon Mignolet "You have to know how to stay humble and respectful, and he should remember that."[60] Though, 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.[61]

Outside football

Personal life

Thibaut's sister Valérie is a volleyball player, who plays as a libero for Budowlani Łódź and Belgium.[62] His parents also were volleyball players, and he played the sport in his childhood but decided to focus on football when he was 12.[62]

On 26 May 2015, his Spanish girlfriend Marta Domínguez gave birth to their daughter, Adriana.[63]


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.[64] In November 2013, the word was included in a shortlist composed by Van Dale (the leading Dutch dictionary) to be polled to determine the best new sports/amusement word of the year in Belgium,[65] and ended second.[66] The term is a variation on the worldwide Planking meme which was popular in 2011.

Career statistics


As of 20 November 2016[67][68]
Club Season League[69] Cup[70] League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Genk 2008–09 100010
2009–10 0000000000
2010–11 400103[lower-alpha 1]0440
Total 410103000450
Atlético Madrid (loan) 2011–12 3700015[lower-alpha 1]0520
2012–13 370801[lower-alpha 2]0460
2013–14 3705012[lower-alpha 3]02[lower-alpha 4]0560
Total 1110130280201540
Chelsea 2014–15 32000205[lower-alpha 3]0390
2015–16 23030003[lower-alpha 3]01[lower-alpha 5]0300
2016–17 1200000120
Total 67030208010800
Total 218017020390202790
  1. 1 2 All appearances in Europa League
  2. appearance in UEFA Super Cup
  3. 1 2 3 All appearances in UEFA Champions League
  4. Appearance in Supercopa de España
  5. Appearance in FA Community Shield


    Belgium defend against a Serbian corner during the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers; Courtois (in yellow) played every minute of the World Cup qualifiers and end stage.
    As of 09 October 2016[71][72]
    Belgium national team


    Courtois and Petr Čech lifting the 2015 League Cup trophy


    Atlético Madrid[73]



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