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Thibaut Courtois leaves Belgium National Team camp early

Belgium v Austria: Group F - UEFA EURO 2024 Qualifying Round Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has left Belgium’s training camp ahead of their Euro 2024 qualifier against Estonia on Tuesday. Initially, it seemed like Courtois wasn’t 100% fit, although, some reports in Belgium have stated that he was unhappy with the coach’s decision to give the captain’s armband to Romelu Lukaku.

The Belgian federation confirmed that Courtois had left the camp for personal reasons, but did not give any further details. However, several Belgian media outlets claimed that Courtois was frustrated with coach Domenico Tedesco’s handling of the captaincy issue.

According to Het Nieuwsblad, Courtois was expecting to be named captain for the game against Austria on Saturday, in the absence of regular skipper Kevin De Bruyne, who missed the match due to an injury he sustained in the Champions League final.

However, Tedesco opted to give the armband to Lukaku, who scored Belgium’s equaliser in the 1-1 draw. Tedesco announced after the game that Courtois would be captain for the next match against Estonia, but by then it was too late to appease the goalkeeper.

Courtois reportedly did not show up when the players gathered back at the team’s hotel on Sunday, and decided to leave the camp on Monday morning. He informed Tedesco of his decision by phone, and also spoke to De Bruyne and Lukaku.

Courtois is one of the most experienced and respected players in the squad. He has been in excellent form for both club and country.

His departure is a blow for Belgium, who are second in Group F behind Austria, who have a three-point lead but have played one game more. Strasbourg goalkeeper Matz Sels is expected to replace Courtois in goal for the game against Estonia.

There are still no confirmations either way on what has happened. As Managing Madrid stated on Twitter, it’s best to wait to hear Courtois’s side of the story before jumping to conclusions.

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