Despite taking Petr Cech’s job this summer, Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois insists he shares a better relationship with the veteran than he did with his fellow shot-stoppers at Atletico Madrid.
Courtois, 22, spent three consecutive seasons on loan at Atletico after signing from Genk in 2011, with his performances proving crucial towards the side’s title-winning campaign and run to the Champions League final last term.
Brought back to Stamford Bridge for good this summer, the Belgian international was then named Jose Mourinho’s new number one over long-time starter Cech before the start of the season, and has since proved a more than capable successor.
While the now-backup has understandably voiced his frustration recently at dropping to the bench, Courtois stresses the pair are still close friends, and work great together in training.
“On the day I took my original medical here, Petr came to say hello and welcome me, just like Drogba and John [Terry]. They made the effort,” he told the Guardian.
“We train really well together now, talking a lot about things that can happen in a game. It’s a nice relationship. I understand that, maybe, he’s not happy he doesn’t play a lot and that’s normal. I would be the same. But we get on well.
“At Atlético, the No2s would not always speak to me. It wasn’t jealousy, more frustration, but it meant we didn’t get on well. That’s a pity because, normally, the goalkeepers are just alone working together. It’s not like that here.
“I’d watch Edwin van der Sar and try and steal things with my eyes from how he played, because he wasn’t all muscles and was a similar build to me. But Petr was another I’d look up to, someone I wanted to emulate.”
Courtois admits that he is still learning as a keeper, and needs to be more vocal with his back-line, but now believes he has the clout to make himself heard in the dressing room if required.
“In the national side Kompany is the real leader but he was not there [against Iceland]. I don’t feel responsible for all the team, but I am responsible for protecting my goal,” he said.
“I’m not saying I’m the leader, but I feel I can say something if it will improve the team. At Chelsea we have JT, a great leader, as well as players like Drogba. In the dressing room I’ll leave the shouting to them. Maybe that will change in the future but, for now, I’m just new at this club.”