Courtois: Hard work pays off
News Sun 14 May 2017
Thibaut Courtous is pleased to have that winning feeling back and says the Premier League title is the perfect reward for the Chelsea squad's hard work this season.
The work ethic demanded from Antonio Conte has had the Blues players putting in the hard miles on the training pitch to prepare for every game, both physically and tactically, and it was all worth it to arrive at this triumphant moment according to our goalkeeper.
'In the end it's paid off so it's nice for the players that all the work we've done this season counts for something and means we get to have this amazing feeling again,' explained Courtois, who added a second English title to the Belgian and Spanish ones he claimed earlier in his career.
'It's an amazing feeling. I live for these moments of joy and excitement.'
Many have pointed to the back-to-back Premier League defeats by Liverpool and Arsenal in September, after which we adopted a three-man defence, as the turning point of the season, and Courtois is quick to credit the Chelsea players and coaching staff with how effectively we managed that difficult change.
'It was very bad if you lose 3-0 against another top opponent in a London derby. We had a bad game against Arsenal and it was this time we decided to switch to a 3-4-3. The players picked it up straight away, with a lot of work on it at the beginning, because it's not so easy that you just change and you win your games. A lot of teams have tried to do it and it's not always so easy. We did it, we picked it up very well and I think that was because of our work ethic, combined with the hunger of not wanting another season like last year.'
The disappointment of the 2015/16 season clearly hurt our no.13 and his Blues team-mates, more accustomed to chasing titles than scrapping for points in mid-table, but he thinks that pain made them even more determined to bring the Premier League trophy back to Stamford Bridge for the second time in three seasons.
'We had a bad season. We had a lot of critics, everybody in the team, a lot of laughter at us,' he admits. 'It's not nice after a season when you won the league. Some of the criticism was deserved, some not, but to bounce back in this way, to be champions again and to have been top a long way, is amazing.
'They said we didn't want to play any more, that we are lazy, and that's not true. We try to win our games and last year was just a one off, especially for a team like Chelsea with the players we have here. Everybody was hurt in their pride and that's why we wanted to bounce back this season.'
Having resolved one piece of unsettled business, the Belgian international has already set his sights on healing another painful memory when we return to European competition next season. Courtois was part of the Atletico Madrid side which conceded an injury-time equaliser to city rivals Real Madrid in the 2014 final, before losing in extra time, and is relishing the chance to get his hands on that trophy with Chelsea.
'Obviously next year there is a new goal with the Champions League coming for us. It's been a few years since Chelsea have won it and I missed out on one in the last minute, so a lot of players are hungry to win that as well.'