Undoubtedly the man of the moment in the 2022 Champions League final was goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian has been in scintillating form all season, but has perhaps received less praise than colleagues like Luka Modric or Karim Benzema.
On Saturday night, he earned all of the numerous plaudits. Making nine saves during the match, it took his total to 57 for the Champions League, as per Fran Martinez. That was more than double any of his totals in the previous three seasons.
#DATO Paradas de Thibaut Courtois en Champions League desde que llegó al Madrid:
— Fran Martínez (@LaLigaenDirecto) May 28, 2022
After the match, Courtois was defiant in his post-match statements, telling that he wasn’t receiving enough respect for his performances.
His manager had no doubts in him though. Carlo Ancelotti even told Courtois that it was up to him to win the final, as he explained to Marca.
“Returning to Madrid has been a great success. I don’t think about the titles but I do about the happiness we have given to the fans and the players, like Courtois. I said to him, I will get you to the final and then you have to win it, and so it was.”
Obviously the story is the incredible form of Courtois, but perhaps the most interesting aspect of his post-match comments was that he was paying attention to what people were saying about him online.
That goes against what most footballers say they do, blocking out the noise, but for Courtois, it was clearly an important motivational tool.