3 Strengths of Thibaut Courtois, The Goalkeeper Known for His Miraculous Saves

The goalkeeper is for many the most thankless position in soccer, because mistakes are costly. But with Courtois' talent, it is possible to excel even in moments of maximum pressure.
3 Strengths of Thibaut Courtois, The Goalkeeper Known for His Miraculous Saves

Last update: 26 June, 2022

The best athletes in the world bring out all their talent in decisive moments. However, behind their talent, there are countless hours of hard work and also great virtues, such as those that have made Thibaut Courtois one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

As a child, Courtois already dreamed of becoming a footballer. However, he didn’t quite make the cut for other positions, according to the player himself on his official website, so he was proposed to be a goalkeeper.

“They didn’t need to say anything else.” -Thibaut Courtois

That was the birth of a stellar career that, thanks to innate talent and a lot of hard work, seems to have reached its peak.

Courtois’ virtues that put him among the best in the world

The Real Madrid and Belgium national team goalkeeper has a great advantage when he stands under the three posts: his physique. He’s two meters tall and weighs about 96 kilos; these are qualities that allow him to reach unthinkable balls, but that also help him to make agile saves as if he were much smaller.

Of course, a world-class goalkeeper couldn’t stand out without a training plan according to his potential. Below, we’ll talk about Courtois’ main characteristics as a goalkeeper and how these are developed through the exercises he performs in training.

Thibaut Courtois saving a goal

1. Thibaut Courtois is a small-area goalkeeper

If we look at a compilation of Thibaut Courtois’ saves, we’ll notice that many of the goalkeeper’s best interventions occur inside the small area. Below the three posts, the Belgian is practically unbeatable if the attacker doesn’t have a clear advantage to finish.

This was evident in the final of the Champions League against Liverpool. In this match, several of his saves came from a close range.

However, if the shot comes from far away, he also knows how to respond and use the full length of his body to clear the ball. A few years ago, at the Russia 2018 World Cup, he covered a Neymar shot from outside the box that he himself ranks among the best saves of his career.

Courtois’ talent for saving is undeniable, but behind this quality, there’s a lot of training, as well. In the videos shared by Real Madrid on social networks, you can see how the goalkeeper permanently faces the best definers on the planet and does not make it easy for him to score a goal.

2. Agility and dexterity, despite his height

Linked to the above, we can also observe that Courtois is a very fast goalkeeper. When this becomes clearer is when he has to go out to press a striker who enters the area with the ball under control.

In several of these plays, it can be seen that, between the second the striker controls the ball and the moment he tries to score, Courtois has already taken two or three steps to get almost on top of him. In this way, he takes advantage of his physical size to cover an even larger part of the goal.

Goalkeeper training includes many exercises to enhance these skills. For example, some consist of reacting to several consecutive shots in different directions at different heights, and even with varying power.

Also, they train to pick up smaller objects, such as tennis balls, and respond quickly to second moves to kick the ball out.

3. Thibaut Courtois controls the air space

Of course, a world-class goalkeeper can’t neglect his aerial game, especially not if he’s two meters tall, as is the case of the player of the Belgium national team.

His physical characteristics help him a lot with this. Being so tall and adding the length of his outstretched arms, almost any ball that enters the goal high will be in his hands.

To further improve this quality, goalkeepers train to jump higher; they need leg power is key to reach these balls. In addition, good eye coordination is needed to calculate where the ball will land. There’s also the muscular strength, too, as players – both those of the goalkeeper’s own team and their opponents’ – are often an obstacle in the game.

Thibaut Courtois has demonstrated his power not only in his own area, but also in the opposition’s half. In a league match against Valencia, Courtois put in a header after a corner kick that ended in an agonizing goal for his team for the equalizer even though it wasn’t a goal.

Extra help and great discipline: Other traits of Thibaut Courtois

While it may be minor, something that also helps is that Thibaut Courtois’ parents were both volleyball players. Therefore, it’s not be surprising that his facility for catching balls may come in part from spending hours playing the sport while accompanying his parents.

Added to this, the footballer himself has posted videos of himself playing basketball. Of course, he dunks the ball into the basket with ease.

Frank Vercauteren, who was his coach in his early days at Genk in Belgium, told the press that the player “had perfect training, with a lot of intention and quality,” and that from that moment on he stood out for his mental strength. This earned him a place on the team, even as an 18-year-old.

Thibaut Courtois jugando para la selección de Bélgica.

Thibaut Courtois: A talented and winning goalkeeper

Throughout his career, Courtois has won the most important competitions:

  • The Champions League
  • The Spanish League
  • The Premier League
  • The King’s Cup

“I want to be an inspiration for those who persevere in pursuit of their dreams.” -Thibaut Courtois

At the age of 30, he’s achieving the best numbers of his career, hand in hand with a team like Real Madrid, which has become unstoppable. Undoubtedly, with his saves and his performance in key moments, Thibaut Courtois is inspiring thousands.