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Thibaut Courtois hopes Champions League success will help silence critics

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois celebrates winning the Champions League (Peter Byrne/PA)
Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois celebrates winning the Champions League (Peter Byrne/PA)

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was delighted to prove a point to his critics in England after keeping out Liverpool to help the Spanish giants win the Champions League final.

The former Chelsea stopper produced one of the best performances of his life to keep Liverpool at bay in Paris as Real ran out 1-0 victors thanks to Vinicius Junior’s second-half strike.

The Belgian said on BT Sport: “I said to my friends yesterday that when Real Madrid play finals they win it. I am on the good side of history.

Thibaut Courtois
Thibaut Courtois is a Champions League winner (Adam Davy/PA)

“Today I needed to win a final for my career, for all the hard work to put respect on my name because I don’t think I have enough respect, especially in England.”

Courtois, who won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and League Cup with Chelsea, added: “I saw a lot of criticism even after a great season, that I was not good enough or whatever.

“I am just really happy and proud of the performance of the team. We stuck to it and when I needed to be there, I was there for the team.”

Belgium international Courtois added: “I think we beat the best clubs in the world; (Manchester) City and Liverpool were unbelievable this season.

“They fought to the end in the Premier League and Liverpool won two cups. Today they were really strong.

“I played a great game, that was the difference today because we had one important chance and we scored it.”

Carlo Ancelotti becomes the first manager to win the Champions League four times.

The former Everton boss said on BT Sport: “I cannot believe it. I am the record man.

“It was a difficult game. We suffered a lot more in the first half, but in the second half at the the end with all the games we played I think we deserved to win this competition.

“We are really happy, and I cannot say more. When I came here, I found as usual a fantastic squad with a lot of quality and strong mental character.

“We passed through really difficult games, the supporters helped us a lot, I am so happy.”

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who lifted the trophy in 2005, described Real’s performance in Paris as “phenomenal”.

“They have put an absolute defensive masterclass on today,” the Aston Villa boss said on BT Sport.

“Yes the keeper got man of the match, but if you look at the detail of the defending to a man all over the pitch, their distances, their shape and the calmness under pressure.

“Yes they got outplayed for 40 minutes, but over the 90 minutes… yes their keeper bailed them out at times, but to a man across the pitch they defended ever so well.”

Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand felt Real had won it the hard way.

“They have beaten the champions of France, the champions of England, I have had my breath taken away here,” he said on BT Sport.

Rio Ferdinand and  Steven Gerrard
Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard hailed Real for their achievement (Peter Byrne/PA)

“In the first half they got played off the pitch, but we spoke about the experience of this team and being able to weather storms – today they proved that again.”

Former Reds striker Michael Owen added on BT Sport: “Nobody can say they (Madrid) didn’t deserve that.

“Their route to the final has been incredibly tough, they have beaten the best of British: Chelsea, Manchester City and now Liverpool.

“Yes, Liverpool played well for 40 minutes, but those (Real Madrid) boys have ground it out again, with that experience, that nous and knowhow – it is so important in football and they have it in abundance.”