Thibaut Courtois has hit back at Chelsea fans who booed him during Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final clash and defended his decision to kiss the Real Madrid badge.
The Belgian spent seven years at Stamford Bridge – though was loaned to Atletico Madrid for the first three years – before returning to the Spain with Real in somewhat acrimonious circumstances, running down his contract and leaving for a low fee.
Courtois was given a hostile reception on his return to the club, with supporters booing him throughout the 2-0 win (4-0 on aggregate) and chanting ‘traitor’ as he took his place between the sticks.
The 30-year-old responded by producing a couple of excellent saves – wildly celebrating one stop to deny Cucurella before the break – and kissed the Real Madrid badge on his shirt at the end of the game in front of the home fans.
Courtois has now defended his actions and claims he will not change his behaviour while he continues to get such abuse from the supporters who used to sing his name.
Asked about the reception he received, Courtois told BT Sport after the match: ‘It’s okay. Like I’ve said before, obviously it’s a pity.
‘I had four beautiful years here, I will never forget it, I know I owe a lot to Chelsea. So obviously it’s a pity now it’s like this.
‘But five years have passed, if it’s still like this I will not obviously change my behaviour and celebrate the goals and everything, because in the end they will not change their [behaviour].
‘In the end I will still wish them really well, I have a lot of friends still in the medical staff, the physios.’
Asked if his stop to deny Cucurella was one of his best, Courtois said: ‘Yeah definitely. I think at that moment there was a low cross coming in, so you wait first if someone at the near post or middle of the goal tries to score.
‘Then it happens where you’re half on the floor, I jumped up fast and I saw Cucurella with the ball and I just thought to jump, make myself as big as possible, cover the near post with my legs and the other one with my hands and body. I think it was a good save and an important one at that moment.’
When it was suggested he celebrated the save as if it was a goal, Courtois added: ‘Yeah I think we are all passionate, especially the defenders and myself, and we know obviously it’s just before half-time so it’s really important to keep it 0-0.
‘If they go in at half-time with a 1-0 lead, the second half would be different. We kept our cool and second half we could score that first goal and then you know that it will be hard for them to come back.
‘They tried really well, I thought they played a good game. Obviously it’s a bit harder for them at this moment, and when you kill the momentum of them during the game – obviously with their past results – you know it will be harder for them to believe.’