Thibaut Courtois embroiled in Belgium captaincy row

Thibaut Courtois left the Belgium camp on Monday; manager Domenico Tedesco claimed Courtois was unhappy not to be awarded the team captaincy; the Real Madrid goalkeeper has hit back in a statement.
Courtois left the Belgium camp unexpectedly
Courtois left the Belgium camp unexpectedly / ANP/GettyImages

Thibaut Courtois has clashed with Belgium boss Domenico Tedesco after the Real Madrid goalkeeper left camp abruptly.

Courtois made his 102nd appearance for Belgium during Saturday's 1-1 draw with Austria but left the camp shortly after, despite Belgium still having a Euro 2024 qualifier against Estonia on their schedule for Tuesday.

Tedesco claimed to reporters that Courtois chose to leave to show his frustration towards not being handed the captain's armband during the Austria game. Instead, it was Romelu Lukaku who led his side out.

"Together we decided that Romelu would be captain against Austria and Thibaut tomorrow against Estonia," Tedesco said. "That was okay for everyone, but after the match he [Courtois] suddenly wanted to talk to me and said he was going home because he was disappointed and felt offended.

"From the beginning I tried to show him the appreciation he deserves. In my eyes he is the best goalkeeper in the world. I love him as a goalkeeper but also as a human being. I am shocked."



Courtois soon responded to Tedesco's claims, accusing the boss of distorting reality and insisting his withdrawal from the squad was down to injury.

"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," the Real Madrid goalkeeper wrote. "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 check-up 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."

Tedesco later declined to offer any assurances to Courtois, who removed Belgium from his Instagram bio, over his future with the team.

"It's not the right time to say anything about that, because we have an important game tomorrow," he said. "The next games are in September and we will see then."


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