Thibaut Courtois Leaves Belgium Camp Amid Captaincy Dispute

Thibaut Courtois
Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images

Thibaut Courtois, the Real Madrid goalkeeper, has abruptly left Belgium’s training camp ahead of a European Championship qualifier, sparking a crisis within the national team. The unexpected departure reportedly stems from a dispute over the team’s captaincy.

Courtois, who has earned 102 caps for Belgium, was reportedly disappointed when coach Domenico Tedesco handed the captain’s armband to striker Romelu Lukaku in the absence of the regular skipper, Kevin De Bruyne. Feeling slighted by the decision, Courtois decided to leave the camp.

However, Courtois has refuted these claims, stating that he left the camp due to a knee problem. In a lengthy social media post, Courtois expressed his disappointment with Tedesco’s public comments about the situation.

“I am deeply disappointed with this, but I want to make it clear that the coach’s assessments do not fit with reality,” Courtois wrote on Instagram. “I insist that in no case have I demanded anything and that I have spoken to my teammate Romelu Lukaku to clarify any circumstances related to this situation.”

The situation has left a cloud over the Belgian camp, with Tedesco expressing his shock at Courtois’ departure. “I’m still surprised and shocked of course, because we did not expect that something like this can happen,” Tedesco said in a press conference.

As Belgium prepares for its upcoming qualifier against Estonia, the team will have to navigate this unexpected setback. The incident marks a challenging start for Tedesco, who took over the coaching reins from Roberto Martinez after a surprise first-round exit at the World Cup in Qatar last November.

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