Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had earlier left Belgium’s training camp ahead of their Euro 2024 qualifier against Estonia on Tuesday amidst little dispute with team handler. Initially, it seemed like Courtois wasn’t 100% fit, some reports in Belgium even stated that he was unhappy with the coach’s decision to give the captain’s armband to Romelu Lukaku.
The Belgian federation confirmed that Courtois had left the camp for personal reasons, but did not give any further details. However, Belgian media outlets claimed that Courtois was frustrated with coach Domenico Tedesco’s handling of the captaincy issue.
However, Tedesco opted to give the armband to Lukaku, who scored Belgium’s equaliser in the 1-1 draw. Tedesco announced after the game that Courtois would be captain for the next match against Estonia, but by then it was too late to appease the goalkeeper.
Courtois who has responded in surprise as to why a private discussion like this has to come out in the open. The goalkeeper has registered his displeasure with the Team manager for such conduct which is capable of fanning a major discord in the Belgian National Team.
The goal stopper has issued a statement in that regard.
Official statement by Courtois:
“This afternoon I was surprised to hear the coach’s press conference in which he gave a partial and subjective account of a private conversation we had after the match against Austria.”
“I want to make it clear that it is not the first time or the last time that I talk to a coach about issues related to a locker room, but it is the first time that someone decides to tell it publicly.”
“I am deeply disappointed with this, but I want to make it clear that the coach’s assessments do not fit with reality.”
“In that conversation I asked him, not for direct benefit, to explain and make decisions to avoid situations that in the past have harmed us while always looking for the general benefit. To be or not to be the national team captain is neither a whim nor a random decision, it should be his decision and that is what I tried to convey to him. Unfortunately I did not achieve my purpose.”
“I insist that in no case have I demanded anything and that I have spoken to my teammate Romelu Lukaku to clarify any circumstances related to this situation. At the same time I want to make it clear that I did not have any discussion on any similar subject with any teammate, as has been claimed.”
“Furthermore, yesterday afternoon I underwent a checkup for a problem in my right knee. The medical team of my Club and the national team were in contact and reviewed all the corresponding material to make the decision to leave the training camp.”