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Thibaut Courtois to face harsh reality as his Chelsea fan wish is granted ahead of CL fixture – Anita Abayomi

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Once hailed as the gatekeeper of Stamford Bridge, Thibaut Courtois makes his return. Whilst his last visit was met with an empty stadium filled with the ghosts of Chelsea supporters, he will find himself welcomed by a flood of fans.

Long gone are the days when Chelsea fans would chant ‘Thibaut, Thibaut, Thibaut’ following one of their ex-goal keeper’s blockbuster saves.

The situation at Chelsea is not yet resolved, but fans will be allowed to buy Champions League tickets for their match against Real Madrid. The homecoming will be as sweet as the memories that Courtois has of his time at Chelsea, but it probably won’t be sweet for him.

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Courtois’ Chelsea exit still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. The toxic back and forth between the player and the club did not sit well with the vast majority of Chelsea fans. Many knew that he would like a move to Real Madrid someday. We also knew that Eden Hazard shared the same dream. The difference is, Hazard didn’t force his way out.

Remember the latter days of pre-season training? Just after Chelsea’s loss to Manchester City in the Community Shield cup competition which he didn’t take part in. Reports of Courtois not showing up and demanding to be released as soon as the Spanish giants came knocking.

He reportedly gave his word months before leaving for the World Cup with Belgium he would stay and sign a new contract which resulted in Chelsea pulling the plug on signing replacement Alisson Becker from Roma. He’d missed multiple training days, forcing Maurizio Sarri and Chelsea into the panic but of Kepa Arrizabalaga for a record-breaking fee of £72m.

What I find funny is the Belgian was looking forward to reuniting with the Chelsea fans. Speaking with beIN sports last year ahead of his initial return to the Bridge, he said,

“It will be very nice to see a lot of familiar faces, and I wish there was public at Stamford Bridge because there was a lot of happy moments I had there. Even though maybe my departure wasn’t in the best way, or it was put that way, that it wasn’t the best way, I only have good memories.”

I’m not entirely sure what he is expecting, and it feels like his expectations will probably be met with disappointment. Whilst Thomas Tuchel does not condone the term “hostile” in football events, Courtois should expect an atmosphere of that nature. I hate to be the one to break it, but all of the ‘happy moments’ that he once had have been overshadowed by his exit.

Eden Hazard will expect a warm welcome whether he sees game time or not. He is an example of a player who respected his loyalty to the club and left when it was on correct terms. He did not fight his way out, despite Chelsea’s frustrations throughout his last season. Some fans still hope for a reunion someday, where he will return to Stamford Bridge, not as an opponent but as a player.

As for Courtois, there are some dreams that he has yet to accomplish. He attained his dream move to Real Madrid, but he is yet to win the Champions League with them. Speaking to French outlet TF1, he describes this accomplishment as a “childhood dream”.

Chelsea will be hoping to put that dream on hold once again as they plan to take repeat history in the quarter-final.

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https://www.football.london/chelsea-fc/news/thibaut-courtois-chelsea-real-madrid-23502473