Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois pulls out of Euro 2024
Thibaut Courtois will not play at next summer's European Championship in Germany, he announced in an interview with public broadcaster VRT on Tuesday. The Real Madrid goalkeeper is prioritising his recovery from a serious knee injury.
Courtois, 31, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last summer. "Because of the injury, there will be no European Championship for me," Courtois told sports channel Sporza. "I need to recover 100 per cent and it's better not to put a date on it. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to play again in May. But you can never be 100 per cent ready for a big tournament. So I think it's better to give the national team that clarity right away."
"If I'm lucky, I'll be able to play again in May. But you can never be 100 per cent ready for a big tournament"
Courtois has made more than 100 international appearances for the Red Devils, the Belgian men's national team. He has played for Real Madrid since 2018. He suffered the serious injury just before the start of the season and also underwent surgery.
Apology to fans
In the Sporza interview, he also apologised for his actions last June. Courtois played in the Euro 2024 qualifier against Austria but left the squad at short notice and missed the match against Estonia. "I would like to apologise to the team and especially to the supporters. I think they are the two groups that are most shocked. I really enjoy playing for the Red Devils," he said.
He said his recovery was going according to plan, "even a bit better than expected". "And I haven't had any setbacks since the operation either. Now it's a question of patience".
Courtois, who was reportedly unhappy with coach Domenico Tedesco's decision to make Romelu Lukaku team captain against Austria, is keen to set the record straight. "The whole story is much more nuanced," he said. "First of all, let me make it clear that it had nothing to do with the captain's armband. If my departure was only about the captaincy, I would have quit in March [when Kevin De Bruyne was made captain]."
"But when Tedesco said Romelu would captain against Austria and then me against Estonia on Tuesday, something snapped in me. I couldn't take it any more. The fact that I no longer felt appreciated by the federation and the coach made something explode inside me."
Belgium's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois © BELGA PHOTO VIRGINIE LEFOUR