Thibaut Courtois’ father has something to say. Of course he does. This isn’t a man who hides his light under a bushel. He thinks it, he says it (that’s how it feels, anyway). A bit like his son, in fact.
Thierry Courtois is probably the biggest* stage dad in the Premier League. He meddled constantly in the tug-of-war over his son between Chelsea and Atlético Madrid, and right into Petr Čech’s future, too. He reportedly represented his son in talks with PSG. He’s even paired up with his son to sue former Belgium coach Marc Wilmots over accusations that he leaked team lineups to the media.
So when one of the more amusing off-pitch spats erupted between Thibaut Courtois and England goalkeeper Jordan (“he’s 10cm smaller than me”) Pickford, you knew it was only a matter of time before Thierry inserted himself.
To recap, when Adnan Januzaj scored against England, 6’5” (197cm) Thibaut said that 6’ 1” (185cm) Pickford would have saved it if he hadn’t been so short and “too busy throwing his legs in the air.” Well, that’s red meat to the media, of course. And Pickford obliged them by returning serve after saving a penalty in the shootout win over Colombia. “I don’t care if I’m not the biggest keeper because it’s about being there in the moment and making the save and I was.”
Cue Thierry Courtois.
“Meanwhile, in England they have reacted quite fiercely to Thibaut’s statements about their goalkeeper Pickford. Thibaut said he would have caught Januzaj’s ball because he is ten centimetres taller.
“Whoever saw that interview, must have also noticed that it was a statement with a big wink. It was more to tease Adnan than to put Pickford in a bad light.
”But apparently they don’t all have a sense of humour in England. Too bad, you cannot say anything anymore to laugh.”
Courtois was hardly alone in his apparent criticism of Pickford — highly respected Gary Neville, who certainly doesn’t like short goalkeepers, had his say, too, for example — but it’s Courtois’ comments rather than pundits’ takes that have caused this little storm in a teacup. Thierry’s hardly helping the situation here, but that’s also par for the course.
Pickford is now a national hero of course after helping England to their first ever successful penalty kick shootout in a World Cup, so probably no one should say anything even remotely bad about him. At least until England lose in the quarterfinal.
Oh wait, we forgot. It’s coming home.
Should England face Belgium on their way to the title, this could get highly amusing.
*Ed.note: A close second might be Eden Hazard’s father, also called Thierry, who’s been publicly reprimanded, even, by his son. What is it with these Thierrys?