Real Madrid's Thibaut Courtois: Chelsea fans' backlash makes me sad

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Thibaut Courtois admitted he is saddened by the hostility he has experienced from Chelsea supporters since leaving Stamford Bridge to join Real Madrid.

A large section of Chelsea fans turned against Courtois when he refused to report for preseason training in an attempt to force through the move, which in turn forced the Blues to scramble in search of a replacement No. 1 goalkeeper before the Premier League transfer deadline.

Kepa Arrizabalaga's arrival at Stamford Bridge as the world's most expensive goalkeeper in a £71.5 million move from Athletic Bilbao eventually paved the way for Courtois to return to the Spanish capital, where he spent the first three years of his Chelsea career on loan with Atletico Madrid.

Courtois has always insisted that his desire to live in Madrid was motivated primarily by his wish to be closer to his two daughters, and hopes the ill-feeling towards him will subside over time.

"It makes me feel sad and obviously they don't know all the truth," he said. "I think in March the decision was already made and I thought the club would accept it.

"Then because the transfer was closed I did not show up because I thought it better not to disturb the team and the squad.

"If I did go there maybe, I didn't want to be toxic, so obviously it is a pity because I love Chelsea. I loved playing there and I am happy to have won two Premier Leagues, a League Cup and an FA Cup.

"Hopefully it will turn around."


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Courtois further angered Chelsea supporters this week by appearing to compare the squad and stadium of his former club unfavourably to the players and home of Real Madrid.

"I never meant that," he insisted. "I just said maybe in training it goes a little bit faster but that is also the quality of Real Madrid -- that is not saying Chelsea does not have quality.

"I will always look back with a happy feeling to Chelsea. I had a chance to go back to Spain to be closer to my kids. That was an important thing for me.

"I know that a lot of Chelsea fans will understand my decision. I wish them the best and I am happy to see that they have won their first four games and I hope they can go on and win the league."

Courtois has endured a rocky start to his Madrid career, due largely to coach Julen Lopetegui's determination to allow incumbent No. 1 Keylor Navas the opportunity to keep his place.

Navas started each of Madrid's first three matches of the season with Courtois on the bench, but the Belgium international finally made his debut in a 4-1 home win over Leganes last weekend.