Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois played a big role in Belgium's success at the World Cup in Russia. In any case, they did not show that they do not really get along well with each other.Although Belgium lost the World Cup semi-final, many players of the Red Devils have left a lasting impression. For example, Thibaut Courtois. He belongs to the greatest of his guild, he belongs to the tallest anyway, and he also has a big mouth: everything about him seems to be unusually articulated. That's why the Belgian national goalkeeper made headlines at this World Cup almost daily. Thanks to his athletic performance, but also after blasphemer attacks against the supposedly "Alibi-football" of the finalist France or against, in his opinion, a too small English colleague Jordan Pickford, whom he will meet again on Saturday in the third-place match.

In 2013, Courtois was also at the center of the biggest scandal of this Belgian team, which endangered the cohesion of the Golden Generation. Teammate Kevin De Bruyne revealed in his autobiography "Keep it simple" that Courtois had an affair with De Bruyne's girlfriend at the time. And that when asked by the former coach Marc Wilmots, he pleaded for the goalkeeper to stay in the national team.

Kevin De Bruyne allowed Thibaut Courtois to continue playing in the team

"Although I still can not believe what Courtois has done, we continue to work together professionally, " wrote the former Bremen and Wolfsburg player. "The coach asked me if he should leave the team. I do not think I had the right to say that he can not play for the national team anymore because he did something wrong. Of course he remains a good goalkeeper. So I said he could stay. "

As a sought-after conversation partner before and after every game, the 1.99 -meter Chelsea goalkeeper, whose sister Valérie played in the 2016/17 season for the volleyball Bundesliga side Dresdner SC, does not avoid any questions. He gives away pleasingly few phrases and therefore also looks strong.

After the 1-0 against England in the preliminary round, he sneered at his colleague Pickford. "I would have caught the ball," Courtois said, "But he's ten centimeters shorter than I. He was too busy throwing his legs in the air." After Pickford became a hero on penalties in the knockout round tie against Colombia, his coach Gareth Southgate said ironically, "I'm surprised how he made it with his height."

Keeper blasphemed over France's style of play

On Tuesday, Courtois directed his frustration at the entire opposing team. "France play anti-football," the 26-year-old complained after the 1-0 defeat in the semi-finals. "I would rather have been eliminated against Brazil, at least they wanted to play football." It was "bad for football" that France reached the final.

Who is so brisk, must also show performance. And Courtois does that undisputedly. When he fished a Neymar's shot out of the corner at the stoppage time of the quarter-final against Brazil (2: 1), ZDF expert Oliver Kahn cheered euphorically "the upper hand" and ennobled Courtois to the best goalkeeper of the World Cup. And Brazil's national coach Tite responded to the question of whether Hazard or De Bruyne played a crucial role in the elimination of the record world champions: "For me, Courtois has been the decisive factor."

Five years later, Courtois and De Bruyne are still playing in the national team. Together with Eden Hazard, the two were the strongest Belgians at the World Cup in Russia, and made a big contribution to reaching the semi-finals. But off the field, they could not be more different. While De Bruyne, now married for a long time to another woman and a father, comes across as quiet and shy, Courtois is the absolute speaker of the team.