Footballers (and sportsmen, in general) are creatures of habit. Obsessive habits, even. Superstitions. Compulsions. Routine. You don't have to be a professional to understand — for example, I have to wear an extra undershirt beneath my shirt regardless of outside temperature (a habit originally motivated by poor quality polyester jerseys that chafed in all the wrong spots) and if I don't get to play as a the No.6, I'm already set up for failure. And those habits are no doubt small time compared to what some of the professionals, who do this for a living, go through.
Unsurprisingly, for Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, the most important habits involve his goalkeeper gloves. And it's quite the production. Washing, drying, not forgetting...
"I left them at home once. It happened when we played in the League Cup final last year, but my parents were over here so they came to the hotel and brought them. Sometimes I am in the car and I think ‘Woah, my gloves,' and I have to go quick back inside to get them. But mostly not. I like to know that my gloves are ready the way I want them to be ready."
Despite having access to world class facilities and services at Cobham, I find it rather endearing that Courtois still takes his gloves home, not just to protect them, but to also wash them. And dry them. And pet them. And kiss them. And love them. I may have embellished there a bit.
"Other goalkeepers, I think, give their gloves to the kit man. But I take them with me always because I wash them at home the evening before a game and then I put them in a bag and take them with me. I wash them in the washing machine, but only with water, 20 minutes express, 30 degrees, so they are not shrinking. Then I take them with me and they are still a bit wet, then maybe during the day in the hotel I let them dry a bit so there is still some moisture. I don't dry them on the radiator though - that is bad. That dries them out. I leave them on a table. I don't know about other keepers, but I think when you have new gloves and you take them outside, you won't have any grip. If you wash them once you will have better grip. But I like to train with them for a few days before, so they are worn in."
"I change them every three or four games maybe. It depends. If you have good games then you like to continue with them. Maybe not so good games, then you change them."
-Thibaut Courtois; source: Telegraph
Wonder how many pairs he's gone through earlier this season? Fortunately, Chelsea have steadied the ship lately, since Mourinho's sacking — "I was sad when a top manager like Mourinho got sacked, but you have to move forwards" — so he may have been able to reuse a few, even!