PARIS — Thibaut Courtois has revealed a lack of respect for his success in England inspired him to produce a match-winning performance as Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 in Saturday’s Champions League final.
The 30-year-old produced nine saves — the most by a goalkeeper in a European Cup final since records began in 2003 — as Vinicius Junior scored the only goal to give Real a record-extending 14th success in the competition at the Stade de France.
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Courtois revealed afterwards he had been motivated by the March edition of English-based magazine Four Four Two, which omitted him from a list comprising the best 10 goalkeepers in the world and reaction to his pre-match press conference in which he stated his confidence that Real would triumph over Liverpool.
The Belgian international left Chelsea for Madrid in acrimonious circumstances four years ago, failing to report for pre-season training as he attempted to force through a move to Spain — a factor he believes clouds judgement of his performances.
“There was a magazine in March that didn’t put me in the best 10 goalkeepers,” explained Courtois.
“I don’t know. That I think is a lack of respect. I don’t say they have to put me number one, really, I don’t mind. Alisson is a great goalkeeper, [Eduoard] Mendy is a great goalkeeper, [Jan] Oblak, Ederson. There are really a lot of great goalkeepers, I don’t say you have to put me number one.
“But after a season like this they don’t put you in the first 10, it is strange. Secondly, yesterday, I saw plenty of funny stuff coming out of England.
“I guess it is to do with how I left Chelsea but I won twice the Premier League in England. I don’t think I ever really get recognised for it, especially after my first year with Madrid. A lot of people laughed at me but here I am as a winner so it is a nice comeback.
“I saw a lot of tweets coming my way that I would get humbled today it was the other way round.
“Today I needed to win a final for my career, for all the hard work to put respect on my name as I don’t think I get enough respect, especially in England.”
Asked about the goalkeeper list back in March, Real boss Carlo Ancelotti said: “It’s nonsense. What can I say? It’s nonsense. Courtois is the best in the world for me. I’m biased, but saying Courtois isn’t among the best 10… I think you should tear up your press card, whether you’re a journalist or coach or statistician, if Courtois isn’t in the top ten you should tear up your press card.”