Thibaut Courtois put it all on the line when he went on strike at Chelsea to become Real Madrid’s numero uno.
Last season his personal image took a beating and his goalkeeping reputation was in free fall after a turbulent 12 months left him in the abyss.
But the Belgian has gone from Real Madrid’s second best keeper to the ‘Best in the World’ in the space of six short months – or so Zinedine Zidane says.
There were reports that a bout of anxiety haunted Courtois during last season, high-profile errors and fans’ jeers will have put fuel on that personal fire.
Real Madrid fans are near-enough impossible to please but the nature of some of the criticism all felt slightly unwarranted.
It had always been the 27-year-old’s dream to play for Real Madrid.
He won La Liga at Atletico, he won two Premier League titles with Chelsea and has been Belgium’s number one for seven years.
The move to the Santiago Bernabéu alienated him the from both Atletico Madrid’s fans, as he signed for the enemy, and the Blues’ faithful as he effectively refused to train until the deal was done.
Snake emojis was plastered under any Twitter or Instagram post he put up and Real fans were still campaigning for Keylor Navas to return to the first XI after Courtois kept just three clean sheets in his first 11 La Liga games.
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The Costa Rican had been between the sticks for the three consecutive Champions League winning seasons and was something of a fan favourite.
The Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari eras came after the European dominance and Courtois was one of the only changes to the side which made him the perfect scapegoat.
But the Belgian has turned a big-old corner this season and his manager is now calling him ‘The best in the World’ after conceding just ten goals in 18 La Liga games.
In all competitions he now has 13 clean sheets in 25 games this season, compared to the ten in 35 games last campaign.
It has been 12 years since a Real Madrid keeper won the ‘Zamora prize’ for the keeper who has conceded the fewest goals in La Liga and that was club legend, Iker Casillas.
Courtois is still working on salvaging his reputation with the notoriously cynical Real fans but his form this season has turned the tide.
His performance in the Spanish Super Cup final against his former club Atletico earlier in January was the perfect game to prove his worth.
He saved a penalty in the shoot-out as well as making crucial saves throughout the game – what better way to win over your fans than to beat their most-hated rivals in a final?
Courtois is one of the very best goalkeepers out there.
He dethroned Petr Cech at Chelsea and pushed Navas to PSG showing just how highly managers clearly rate him.
His move to Madrid was a huge risk but 18 months in, it looks as though he can start to call the Spanish Capital home.
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