Sunday night’s Champions League final belonged to Thibaut Courtois whose influential performance in goal aided Real Madrid in securing their record-breaking 14th UCL title. The Belgian international stood tall to make 9 saves on the night to cap off an excellent, old fashioned defensive shift from Los Blancos. His two saves to deny Mo Salah in the second half were outstanding as Madrid defenders leapt on Courtois to celebrate the saves right then on the pitch.
The 9 saves, and a clean sheet on the night against a fearsome Liverpool side who racked up 24 shots rightfully earned Courtois the Man of the Match award. The 30-year-old’s performance on Sunday was right up there with some of the best goalkeeping performances in the history of the UCL final such as Petr Cech vs Bayern Munich (2012).
Speaking after the game, the Belgian revealed that he now would be due the respect he deserves. “Today I needed to win a final – for my career, for all the hard work, to put respect on my name because I don’t think I have enough respect, especially England,” said Courtois.
Well, Real fans have truly been grateful for his performance on Sunday and the keeper’s name was met with one of the loudest cheers of the night during Los Blancos’ title celebrations at the Bernebeu on the following evening.
But on the other side of the Spanish capital, Courtois’ heroics generated the opposite reaction as Atletico Madrid fans saw his triumph as disrespectful, especially after losing to Real with Atletico back in 2014.
In retaliation, some Atletico fans even went far enough to dig out the Belgian’s plaque from the ‘Walk of Fame’ street at the Wanda Metropolitano.
This street honours past Atletico players who have made more than 100 appearances for the club. This move came just a day after Atletico president Enrique Cerezo replied to a reporter (who asked whether the plaque would be removed) that “if you want to remove his plaque, go with a pickaxe and a shovel and remove it.” From the looks of it, that is precisely what Atleti fans have gone and done.
However, despite the desecration of the plaque, it looks like club officials have put the plaque back onto the street outside the club’s stadium, as per images now surfacing courtesy of El Chringuito.
As Atletico have maintained cordial ties with their cross-town rivals, the club would not have wanted to disrespect Real on a night of success for them. But just as how Courtois gained the favour of the Madridistas with his UCL win, he has also lost favour with the Colchoneros just across town.
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