Thibaut Courtois: biography
People expected Thibaut Courtois to become a volleyball player, but the boy took an interest in soccer early. Coaches were not fond of the big, heavy-footed child, and only the young man’s hard work and parents’ support made him go on despite ordeals. The endeavor paid off suddenly: the 16-year-old athlete joined the first eleven of Genk.
Childhood and youth
Thibaut Nicolas Marc Courtois was born in Bree, Belgium, into the family of semi-professional volleyball players, Thierry and Gitte Courtois. The parents instilled the love of sports in their son. They took him to a gymnastics club and volleyball matches; little Thibaut learned how to control a ball. At the age of five, the future goalkeeper showed an interest in soccer and joined the Bilzen academy; his daily schedule was pretty busy.
While the parents were supportive, they viewed the love of soccer as a temporary whim: Thibaut showed no special talents at that period. He was made for volleyball, the father joked. Courtois was a tall and clumsy introvert who could just draw into his shell in the middle of training. More than that, he seemed like a magnet for incidents. Every month, the boy had something: malleolar fractures, dislocated fingers, head injuries caused by tumbling over a chair.
First coaches did not agree with the father: they saw the serious boy’s potential and good reflexes. Thibaut looked older and stronger than his peers. However, he had few opportunities to play as a goalkeeper: friends and cousins did not want him to protect the goal box, for it was impossible to score a goal with Courtois there.
Thibaut, his brother, neighbors, and the nephews of the Belgian tennis star Kim Clijsters created a YouTube channel together; they named it YardBrooz (“yard brothers”). The kids shared their best goals during their matches in a garden.
When the future goalkeeper turned eight, the family moved to Genk. The athlete joined the youth team of the local club and performed field functions until 12; the parents insisted Thibaut should not stick to a particular position. However, the boy found his place eventually and earned the title of the best goalkeeper of the tournament in his debuting match.
When the sportsman grew up, coaches doubted if he would go further than a youth team, so clumsy he looked. Nevertheless, Courtois was industrious and persistent; he proved that even experienced mentors could make a mistake.
Thibaut had just turned 16 when the coach of the adult team Pierre Denier risked it and included him to the list of goalkeepers. In fact, the teenager just got lucky: two of the team’s goalkeepers were injured, and another one was disqualified.
The young man never appeared in the field during his first year. However, the season 2010/2011 turned out to be more favorable: Thibaut was the first goalkeeper and participated in the UEFA Europa League qualifying match against Inter Turku. Genk celebrated the victory. By the end of summer 2010, Courtois signed the first contract and started his career.
In 2011, the club won the Belgian Pro League. The goalkeeper successfully performed against Standard Liège during the extended time and got showered in awards: he was named Belgian Professional Goalkeeper of the Year and received the Belgian Bronze Shoe.
Tottenham and Chelsea were interested in the player; Genk was reluctant to say good-bye to the talented athlete. Courtois decided to develop his career in Chelsea; the transfer cost was £5 million.
Atletico Madrid immediately loaned the goalkeeper. Thibaut inherited number 13 from David de Gea and spent three years in the club.
His beginning was splendid: the athlete stood the whole match and neutralized every threat. Atletico won La Liga, 2012 UEFA Europa League, and UEFA Super Cup; Copa del Rey followed in the next season.
As the sportsman returned to Chelsea, he helped the team won the champion title again, as well as FA Cup and Football League Cup. Courtois gained the London Football Awards Goalkeeper of the Year.
In 2011, Thibaut became the youngest goalkeeper in the history of the Belgium national team. He debuted in the match against the French; the meeting ended with a draw.
The sportsman has two children from his ex-girlfriend, Marta Domínguez. Their daughter, Adriana, was born in May 2015; the son, Nicolás, was born in May 2017, after the couple had broken up.
The father posted a picture on Instagram: a baby was holding his finger.
“On Tuesday 2nd May at 12h 50, our wonderful little boy Nicolás came to join his big sister, Adriana, in our lives. We are beyond happy to have him with us, and we will give him all of our love”, he wrote.
There is not much information about Marta. She was a student and worked part-time in a clothes store when she met Thibaut. The relationship was unstable, yet the woman forgave the goalkeeper’s cheating.
When Marta was pregnant for the second time, she went to her home city, Madrid; the athlete stayed in London. Their relationship went down gradually.
Soon, the paparazzi caught the Chelsea goalkeeper with another girlfriend, 18-year-old Delaney Royle. They also revealed that Delaney’s father stood against their affair.
In spring 2018, Thibaut was mentioned in many Internet memes. Chelsea lost to Barcelona during the 1/8 final of the Champions League. The Catalonians scored three goals; Lionel Messi performed two of them. The ball just got between Courtois’s legs. Overall, the Belgian played 35 matches during the season; 15 of them brought no goal scored to Chelsea.
Thibaut participated in the FIFA World Cup 2018. The Belgium national team defeated Tunisia, Great Britain, and Japan, reaching the quarterfinal and Brazil. Eventually, the third-place play-off made the team the bronze medal winner.
At the end of June, fans learned about the goalkeeper’s transfer plans: he wanted to live closer to Marta and the children. The transfer to Real Madrid took place in August 2018.
Thibaut Courtois’s net worth is about $10 million in 2019.
Titles and achievements
- 2010/11 – Belgian Pro League winner
- 2013/14 – La Liga winner
- 2012 – UEFA Europa League winner
- 2012 - UEFA Super Cup winner
- 2013 – Copa del Rey winner
- Premier League winner (twice)
- 2017/18 – FA Cup winner
- 2018 - FIFA World Cup third place