At just 24 years of age, Thibaut Courtois is already famed to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and the Belgian has age on his side to even last another decade in the game.
Courtois believes he has always had it in him as he comes from a sporting family. His parents were both accomplished volleyball players and inspired him to be active from an early age
“From when I was four I was playing for my local team in Bilzen,” he tells Chelsea magazine of his early years growing up in Belgium. “I think, because my parents are supportive and I obviously saw them play volleyball, I wanted to do sport as well.
“They didn’t want me to be a professional sportsman or anything, but they pushed me to do a sport. It could have been football, volleyball, basketball, anything I wanted, but they just wanted me to do something because I think it’s important for children to do sport and move around.
“We spend so much more time now inside and we could be doing sports outside. So that was always important in my family, and after that, if you are talented, it grows more.
“I think this competitive thing was always inside me, even during stupid ping-pong games with my father. In the beginning I could never win, and then when I could win one set, it was already great. So it was always as if it was the final of an important game.
“My parents influenced me a lot. They were always critics. After games, if it was a good game, my father would point out the little things I could do better. He is a perfectionist, so he always wanted me, my sister and my brother to do things well.
“They tried to make sure we stayed humble, but said if we worked hard we could achieve good things in life and in sport. They were always there for us, to help us with everything and trying to make us better at what we did.”
He then told the Chelsea magazine that he has always pushed himself to be better.
“I always try to have that hunger every day in training, to become better and to win, and it’s always nice to have a manager who keeps the players at the level they need to have, who keeps our focus and doesn’t allow us to drop our guard. That’s a good thing, that’s how you can win the league,” he said.