BRUSSELS, June 19 (AP): Thibaut Courtois has left Belgium’s training camp ahead of a qualifying match for next year’s European championships, amid reports in local media that the Real Madrid goalkeeper was frustrated not to be handed the captain’s armband in the previous game.
The Belgian federation confirmed to The Associated Press that Courtois had left the camp and would miss Tuesday’s match in Estonia, but did not give a reason for his departure.
Belgian media reported on Monday that Courtois, who played in Belgium’s 1-1 draw against Austria on Saturday, was disappointed with coach Domenico Tedesco’s handling of the captaincy.
In the absence of Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, who missed the match against Austria after picking up an injury in the Champions League final, Tedesco had given the captaincy duties to striker Romelu Lukaku, who responded by scoring Belgium’s equalizer.
The Het Nieuwsblad newspaper reported that Courtois — who has played 102 matches for the Red Devils — was vexed by the decision and did not show up when players gathered back at the team’s hotel to prepare for the Estonia game.
Tedesco had announced Saturday that it would be Courtois’ turn to wear the armband against Estonia. Strasbourg goalkeeper Matz Sels is now expected to replace Courtois in goal.
Austria has a three-point lead over Belgium, which has one match in hand in Group F. While Belgium travels to Estonia, Austria hosts Sweden.