By the time the 2022 World Cup comes to an end Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, the winner of the 2018 FIFA Best Keeper and World Cup 2018 Golden Glove awards, will have played 500 games as the keeper of Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, and the Belgian National Team. He will also have contested the UEFA Europa and Champions Leagues, and the domestic competitions of Belgium, Spain, and England, aside from the last two World Cups and two Euros as Belgium’s starting keeper.
The six-foot-seven-inch keeper has been in top form for the better part of the last five years and seems to rise to the occasion as needed. As the World Cup in Qatar nears, Belgian coach, Roberto Martinez, will be counting on his superstar goalie to keep his team competitive in the toughest of contests. Aside from Kevin de Bruyne, no other Belgian player is more important to the aspirations of the Red Devils.
It would be fair to say that Real Madrid would not have won its last La Liga and Champions League trophies without the outstanding saves of their stellar keeper, similarly, Belgium’s third-place finish in Russia’s 2018 World Cup was in no small part due to Courtois’s exploits. It would be hard to imagine who will beat him to the FIFA Best Keeper this year or to imagine who will outshine him in Qatar.
Courtois will have been his nation’s keeper for the duration of their Golden Generation, the one which will probably bow out in this winter’s quadrennial event. He will likely go on to play for several years to come as he is only 30 years old, and keepers can comfortably play at a high level into their late thirties. But these are his peak years and his role at the 2022 World Cup cannot be overstated. He is a team talisman of the nature of Neymar, Mbappe, Neuer, Messi, or Ronaldo for their respective teams.
What remains ahead for this magnificent keeper? Perhaps another World Cup Golden Glove award, or another FIFA Best Keeper award. Or barring those he will again rise to keep a so-so Real Madrid in contention to defend their La Liga and Champions League titles. But at this stage in his career, Courtois is without parallel and a joy to behold. Come November and December, whenever Belgium hits the pitch to contest any match, sit back and watch how a keeper’s job is done at its highest level.
Photo; Thibaut Courtois, Shutterstock Photo ID: 1769902784, by Asatur Yesayants