Courtois: “Hazard will explode”

Why is it called Giraffe in video games?

Reguilón always called me a giraffe in training and has stayed there. The first day in the game I wanted to give myself a funny name and there it stayed.

It measures almost two meters, how much exactly?

When I arrived at Madrid they measured me in the medical examination and it was already two meters.

He had to abandon the concentration of Belgium. How is it going? Will it come against Cádiz?

I'm fine. After the game against Levante I felt something in the psoas. We looked at it and it was kind of tiny. If it had been a super important game for the national team, I could have played, but it was better to rest, because a very long season and weeks with many games are coming. Sometimes it helps to think about the body. Today I went back to training with the team.

Will he then be against Cádiz?

That always depends on the coach, if he puts me on or not, but I'm fine.

That a game ends and we say that Courtois was the best is good for you, but is it good for the team?

The stops I have had to make were always at key moments. Perhaps that is why it attracts more attention. Against Levante, for example, I didn't have to intervene in the first half. We had occasions in the second; the same if we put the 0-2 or the 0-3, they would not have talked about me. I try to do my job and in the end the most important thing is the three points with the team.

Do you like it more that it is said that Courtois was the best or that he did not exist under the sticks because he did not have a job?

That in the end is the best. I think about the team, not personally. I want to do my job well and if I only have to cut one against or go over the top and I don't have to make stops because the team is doing a good job and we won 3-0, well I'm delighted. The important thing for me is to be in those moments when you get shot once or twice. I'd rather that than have to make seven stops, obviously.

There were those who said that Courtois did not stop even taxis. Do you want to say something to those people?

I don't need to answer that. I have always known what I have inside, what I can do. Such destructive criticism is very easy to generate debate. I have always worked hard and I have not changed. I am always with constructive criticism from close people. I know when I have played a good game and when I can do better. Since my first game as a professional, even in youth, I have been like that.

It gives the feeling that criticism does not affect him.

It can affect you a bit. We are human and I also have blood and emotions. You have to know where the criticism comes from, who says it and support yourself in what the coach, the goalkeeping coach, your family, your friends tells you … I am the first to know when I have been able to stop a ball in a goal or not. I understand that we were not in a good moment or making stops to win games. From the outside it is always very easy to give an opinion. I believe that with consistency you can get ahead and at no time have I changed my job to be where I am now.

For example, for you, did De Gea fail on Tuesday?

A goalkeeper is not an easy position. In the goal, for David they also want you to cut the ball outside the area. The ball was going very strong, I guess he was just anticipating that and they caught him a little out of place. For me it is not a very big mistake, because if the ball passes and cuts the ball it will have done very well and there is the limit in the goalkeepers. They are half-second decisions, many times they go well and sometimes they don't.

You are very demanding of yourself. In what aspects do you think you can still improve?

My biggest weakness before was the game with my feet, but I have improved it. I have trained him a lot. This year we are playing from behind, taking more risks, but it helps us get the ball out. It is a constant improvement. You can always try to jump further, be stronger, faster … Apart from training with Madrid, some afternoons I work with the personal trainer to find that speed even more in the muscles. For a year I have a chef to optimize food and more energy. They're details. When you are 20-22 years old you don't think about it so much, but when you mature you know the important things and if you want to have a long career you have to take care of yourself.

They tell me that lately he's obsessed with avoiding second plays …

It is a very important thing. Many times there is no option, but in training it is a constant that we do: block or clear with force, so that the ball does not stay five meters from your goal, but goes to the band or to the corner. On many occasions, goals come from the second play. It is not easy to guide the ball, but you have to look for improvement.

What has Zidane given you as a coach?

It has given me a lot of confidence. I've always felt that he was counting on me and it's important. If in the difficult moments of September and October of last year you do not notice that your coach is with you, it is difficult. Soccer is often played mentally. If you can't bear that criticism or you don't notice that the team and the coach have confidence in you, it's difficult. The footballer needs to be mentally well. He is also a great figure, he is a good coach and it shows with the results.

Who have you learned more from, Zidane or Simeone?

They are two different coaches. With Cholo it was more to leave the ball to the other team, defend together, press in the center of the field, leave a clean sheet (although I am doing this very well now too), take fewer risks behind … The year we won La Liga I often looked for Raúl García with my head. With Zidane it is another football. Possession is important, starting from behind … As a goalkeeper, you grow a lot, because I have had all the styles, also Conte, Mourinho … If one day I am a coach I can take the good from each one.

Would you like to be a coach one day?

I do not know yet. I have a long way to go to know what I'm going to like. I also like being with young people, with children, being a coach for children 12-13 years old.

Did it affect you, does it hurt that Atlético fans trample on your plate at Wanda, get hot with you?

It does not hurt me. It's the rivalry between the teams and I know what it means. Inside me I know what I have given to Atlético, 200% to win those titles. On the street I meet Atleti fans and they wish me luck. Then come the derbies and that's the beauty. They motivate me more when there is that atmosphere. It's what I miss now, that there are no fans in the stands, that football is lived differently. If that stays in the stadiums and there are no problems on the street or with my family, I have no problems, because that is the emotion and that's how football is lived.

Who is the best striker you have faced?

I have faced Messi, Cristiano, Ibrahimovic, Mbappé … They are all great players and you want to stop their balls.

Is Messi better than Cristiano for you?

You cannot compare them. They are from another world. Cristiano is more athletic, with his strength, his speed, that gift of scoring that he has. Messi is more the talent, the dribbles that you do not expect, surpass four players in two meters … But you cannot compare them. You have to enjoy both and I am proud to have played against them and to win games and stop them. More cracks will come and the nice thing is to keep stopping.

Wouldn't you have liked Messi to leave Barça?

They are his things, but for me LaLiga is the best in the world and you want the best to be here.

Is a Clásico at the Camp Nou and without an audience an advantage for those who visit Barça?

Yes, in general in all stadiums. We play in Bilbao or San Sebastián, places where it is difficult to play for the public. They miss that lack of fans, because it is a wave of double pressure for the rival. The game is played on the grass, not in the stands, but the fans are missed.

Do you miss the Bernabéu, even without an audience?

Playing at the Bernabéu is a luxury and now it's going to be the best stadium in the world. When I watch videos of matches from last year, I miss them. But now we have to play at Di Stéfano and we are doing very well. We have found our home and it is important to keep winning games, because it is not easy to move from one place to another.

Do you want to retire in Madrid?

It would be nice to be able to play here for the rest of my career. But first is the day to day, play well and keep winning. It will be seen later, but of course I would like to stay here for many more years.

It has adapted well to Madrid, hasn't it? He likes to live in Madrid.

Yes, since he was at Atleti. Madrid for me is a fantastic city. I love live here. In London I missed him. At 90% I'll be here my whole life.

Who is the best current goalkeeper for you?

I'm not going to get wet. There is a selection of great goalkeepers who are on the biggest teams. Sometimes one is at a better time than another, but the quality is always there.

Do you think there is a goalkeeper for every style? For example, Ter Stegen for Barça, Oblak for Atleti …

Barça is a team that plays from behind, where the goalkeeper is very important. I don't know if there is a better goalkeeper than Ter Stegen with his feet, but he fits in very well there. Then the most important thing is for and he also does it very well. Also Oblak, and now he is not required to play much from behind, but if you ask him tomorrow, I am sure he will do well. Today the goalkeepers have to be very complete: play with their feet, go high, go out to cut outside the area and stop.

Do you think that because of the game model it is riskier to be a Real Madrid goalkeeper?

Also in Belgium we play quite offensive and with a lot of space behind the defense. And that for a goalkeeper is difficult, because you have to measure well when to go out and there is always that danger that in a counterattack they generate more danger than in a play in the area. Being a Real Madrid goalkeeper entails a responsibility for the team that it is, the goalkeepers who have been there before and the pressure that exists. If you know that, it is only up to you to play well.

Do you need an extra concentration exercise if the team dominates and does not intervene for a long time?

No. It has always been a quality of mine to stay focused. You find her by staying in the game and actively talking to teammates. The problem is that if you turn off and don't speak there, you can leave the game.

What does having Ramos in front of you transmit to you? Do you expect me to renew?

Sergio is very important to us. He shows it with his goals and in defense. The other is his thing with the club, but all Madridistas want him to continue. I have admired Sergio a lot, except once in Lisbon. I have a lot of respect for Sergio. For me it is an honor to play with him, also with Varane, Casemiro, the other defenders …

What are the greatest virtues of Madrid and what does it have to improve?

We leave it within the team to improve, so as not to tell the rivals. This year we are doing very well that when we defend we do not generate many chances. From confinement we are keeping a clean sheet a lot and that is a very important thing in football. We move the ball well in possession from one side to the other. And I think we create chances. Then there are days when we score more or less goals, but it is important that we arrive and generate many chances.

Do you think that Madrid is missing a goal in some games?

Not in my opinion. Karim scores goals, also Asensio, Vini … It's a matter of believing in us. We scored three goals for Betis, two for Levante … I'm sure that comes out of that. What would worry me is if we don't create them, but with that there is no problem and later in training I see how they plug me in. So there I don't think there are problems.

Do you think you've managed to make anyone remember Keylor Navas?

That's a question for fans and people who like to comment. I try to do my job, help the team win by contributing my part and win titles. Keylor has won a lot at Madrid, he is a great goalkeeper, he continues to show it in Paris and I try to win the most at Madrid by helping the team. I don't think it can be compared. I don't have to think about who has been in goal before.

The madridistas are worried about Hazard. Are we going to see the best Hazard at Real Madrid?

Yes, I have no doubt. Eden is the first who wants to prove it. I see him very well and I hope he can show it soon. Before his injury in November last year, he had two or three games very well and had bad luck. Getting out of that was not easy, but I see him training very well and I'm sure that in no time he's going to explode and gives the team a lot of joy.

Do you think that the best thing for Bale is that he looked for minutes in another team? Do you think you have done well?

What one talks to the coach is personal. I don't know what he thought, but then they are decisions that everyone makes. I have had a good relationship with Gareth and I wish him the best of luck this year, even if he is not playing for the good team in London (jokes). Is a great player.