Thibaut Courtois has two talents. One is goalkeeping. The other is rubbing football fans the wrong way.
He’s managed to pull off the rare trick of making collective rage take over not just in the city he’s leaving, but also in the city he’s going to. As said, the man has a talent.
In London, it’s not that he just left Chelsea. Plenty of others have asked or forced their way out over the years. Some, such as Nemanja Matić, Juan Mata, or Petr Čech are even playing for direct rivals. Yet, they retain some measure of affection. We’ve even forgiven Gus Poyet and William Gallas.
Eventually, the Courtois angst may fade as well, as such things often do. However, for now the issue remains red hot thanks to numerous back-and-forths of “I’ll will stay” and “I want to be in Madrid” during his time at Stamford Bridge (half of which turned out to be lies), as well as his continued wooing of Eden Hazard to join him in Madrid.
Chelsea supporters vented anywhere they could, and crossed the line with alarming frequency. Thibaut’s farewell message, crafted by his PR, was yanked off of Facebook within an hour of going up, so many negative comments did it draw.
Thibaut Courtois posted a thank you message to Chelsea fans on Facebook and deleted it because of the replies, slating him— WorldWideChels (@WorldWideChels) August 8, 2018
W for the Chelsea community. pic.twitter.com/NCnJdp6S5z
(Ed.note: not sure we should be proud of that, and certainly should not claim any sort of “W for the Chelsea community”.)
John Terry did right by his former teammate and wished him well on his move. But by the end of the day, Terry had closed comments on his Instagram post, too, that’s how bad the vitriol was — a swarm of angry Chelsea fans flying and tearing apart any message with a positive slant about Courtois.
If Real Madrid happen to fall onto Chelsea’s schedule sometime in the next couple of seasons, Courtois is certainly going to get a new appreciation for how close his goal line is to the fans at Stamford Bridge.
“I know at the moment they are not too happy, but I hope they remember what was achieved. I needed a new challenge. Now I’m at a club that I have always wanted to be at.”
-Thibaut Courtois; source: Mail
Meanwhile, down on the Iberian peninsula, they’re not exactly rolling out the welcome mat. Real Madrid are certainly happy enough to have him, but Keylor Navas, the man he’s replacing, said he’d rather die than leave Los Blancos. And some fans are sure to remember that when Atlético Madrid beat Real in the Copa del Rey in 2013, Courtois happily took to the balcony of the city hall and sang an obscene song about the club he’s now a part of.
(The song goes by: “jump, jump, jump, little kangaroo / and the Madrid fans can go f*** themselves”)
Courtois called this a product of misguided youth in his introductory press conference, then proceeded to kiss the badge of his “dream club”, who are much more his home already than Atlético ever were (in so many words).
Not that Atléti fans needed any additional encouragement. As with Hugo Sánchez in the mid-80s, they’ve already defaced a legends’ plaque in recognition of his sterling work there, which was laid just last summer. In all their history, the number of established first-team players to play for Real after playing for Atléti can be counted on one hand.
Courtois' 'Atlético Legend' plaque is already vandalised. Pretty sure MHDP stands for Madridista Hijo De Puta, although could also be Much Happiness Delightful Person. We'll never know. pic.twitter.com/j9xe3n2hrH— Euan McTear (@emctear) August 9, 2018
That’s not all, either. If he’ll need earplugs at Stamford Bridge, perhaps a helmet would be in order at Wanda Metropolitano, since Atleti fans are threatening to shower him with toy rats. And this being Atleti versus Real, it’s probably not an idle threat.
Fans are preparing to rain down toy rats on Courtois when he next returns to the Metropolitano. https://t.co/4XqkIBEYK6— AtléticoFans (@AtleticoFans) August 9, 2018
Thibaut Courtois, making “friends” everywhere he goes. What a talent!