Courtois talks about playing in front of Chelsea supporters: Eden Hazard is out due to recent surgery, and Carlo Ancelotti’s place in the dugout tomorrow is in doubt due to Covid, but one of Real Madrid’s former Blues, their current goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, was at Stamford Bridge on the eve of our Champions League match, conducting media conference duties.
Before leaving for Spain, the Belgian, who is currently 29 years old, was a member of our squad from 2014 to 2018. Last season, he was back in west London when Chelsea beat Real Madrid in the semi-finals, but it was behind closed doors.
One of the topics he was asked ahead of tomorrow’s first leg of the quarter-final was how he thinks about some of the supporters, who will be inside the Bridge this time, who are not particularly happy to see him again.
‘That is now in the past,’ Courtois said.
‘I spent four years here and won two league titles and two cups, so I have nothing but fond recollections of my time here.’ Perhaps my departure was less enjoyable, but leaving is never easy. We’ll see what happens tomorrow, but my goal as a Real Madrid player is to win and help the club advance to the semi-finals.’
Courtois then turned his attention to today’s Chelsea, where he discussed the ownership shift and his ambitions for his old team.
‘It’s been a difficult month for the club, the supporters, and obviously the players, but I believe you can see that everyone who cares about Chelsea is putting all their work into making sure that the new owners understand what they’re purchasing, with what fans, and that they maintain the blue spirit.’
‘I was with Chelsea for seven years in all, and that’s a major part of it, even though they gave me an opportunity to be loaned out to Atletico, they gave me a chance to improve as a player, and they gave me a chance to come back and be with Petr Cech, so I learned from him and won two Premier Leagues.’
‘It’s always a pleasure to return here, and I hope the new owners have a good understanding of the club they’re purchasing, so Chelsea can continue to be one of the finest in the world.’
Courtois was also questioned about our center-forward Romelu Lukaku, who he knows well from their time together as Belgium teammates.
‘Romelu is a fantastic striker,’ he said. ‘It’s surprising to see him not playing as much lately, but he’s a fantastic player.’ He had no trouble locating the goal. I realize that there are other fantastic attackers at Chelsea, so it’s not always simple, and that if the club keeps winning, the manager will continue to use the same guys. But I’m confident he’ll get through it.
‘Sometimes all you need is a little tweaking.’ In Madrid, I had a similar experience; the first year was difficult. You change tactics, your squad, and your trainers, so you have to adjust to everything all over again. I’m sure he’ll be OK, but I’m hoping it’s no tomorrow. He has another week to wait!’