Chelsea star Thibaut Courtois is now renowned as one of the world’s elite shot-stoppers and his eight game record of keeping out Lionel Messi can only be marvelled at.
The Belgian international joined The Blues in the summer of 2011 after being named Belgian shot-stopper of the year for previous club Genk at just 19 years of age.
Within weeks of moving to Stamford Bridge he was then loaned out to Atletico Madrid who were at the time an underachieving midtable La Liga side.
Under the guidance of Diego Simeone who joined as boss midway through the 2011/12 season, both Atletico Madrid and Thibaut Courtois went from strength to strength and improved drastically.
Courtois’ record against Lionel Messi was patchy at the beginning, conceding six goals to the Argentine maestro in his first three games including a hat-trick in their very first encounter.
Since then, it has been the Chelsea man who has come out on top in the personal battles and Messi’s blank during Argentina’s 1-0 World Cup win over Belgium was his eighth in a row against the 6ft 6inch stopper.
Courtois, however, acknowledged that whilst he won the personal battle against Messi he ultimately lost the war as Gonzalo Higuain’s fine strike after just eight minutes sent the South Americans through to the semi-final.
On Higuain’s goal: “I couldn’t get there, it was very fast. I managed to stop Messi but not Higuain. We have then controlled the game but they defended very well.” He said, quoted by the Spanish newspaper AS.
Courtois is set to return to Chelsea following his loan spell in the Spanish capital and recent reports have suggested that Jose Mourinho will opt for the 22-year-old over Czech number one Petr Cech.
As for Lionel Messi, as far as his La Liga aspirations go, he will be glad not to face the Belgian any time soon as no other shot-stopper in world football has managed to get the better of him quite like Thibaut Courtois.