Thibaut Courtois, the goalkeeper for Real Madrid and the Belgian national team, has criticized national team manager Domenico Tedesco for accusing him of leaving the team due to not being selected as captain over Romelu Lukaku.
Tedesco made this claim during a press conference before Belgium’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Estonia, revealing that Courtois had opted to walk away from the national team after not being named captain in the absence of Kevin de Bruyne.
Tedesco insisted the Real Madrid goalkeeper had refused to travel for the match due to being “offended” at being overlooked for the captaincy against Austria on Saturday.
The new Belgium boss spoke on Courtois’ absence from the team, saying, “Together we decided that Romelu would be captain against Austria and Thibaut tomorrow against Estonia.
“That was OK for everyone but after the match, he [Courtois] suddenly wanted to talk to me and said he was going home because he was disappointed and felt offended.
“I wish I could say it’s an injury but I can’t lie. I always try to protect players but that’s impossible in this situation. I tried to tell him to hold on for two more days.”
Following this revelation by Tedesco, Courtois has hit back at the manager, claiming that his gaffer took his words out of context in a bid to make him look bad.
In a message released on his personal website Thibautcourtois.com, the Real Madrid goalkeeper said that Tedesco’s statements to the press were untrue and noted that he was disappointed that a private conversation would be brought to the public eye in such a manner.
He said, “This afternoon I was surprised to hear the coach’s press conference in which he gave a partial and subjective account of a private conversation we had after the match against Austria.
“I want to make it clear that it is not the first time or the last time that I talk to a coach about issues related to a locker room, but it is the first time that someone decides to tell it publicly.
“I am deeply disappointed with this, but I want to make it clear that the coach’s assessments do not fit with reality.
Courtois explained his side of the story, and noted that he had already spoken to Lukaku about the captaincy issue, saying, “In that conversation I asked him, not for direct benefit, to explain and make decisions to avoid situations that in the past have harmed us while always looking for the general benefit.
“To be or not to be the national team captain is neither a whim nor a random decision, it should be his decision and that is what I tried to convey to him. Unfortunately, I did not achieve my purpose.
“I insist that in no case have I demanded anything and that I have spoken to my teammate Romelu Lukaku to clarify any circumstances related to this situation. At the same time, I want to make it clear that I did not have any discussion on any similar subject with any teammate, as has been claimed.
Courtois left the Belgian national team camp citing a knee injury, and believes that records of the Real Madrid and Belgium physiotherapists will be enough to vindicate him in the matter.