Thibaut Courtois' plaque

Thibaut Courtois’ plaque on Atletico Madrid’s “walk of legends” outside the Wanda Metropolitano stadium was removed on Tuesday after fans reacted angrily to the goalkeeper’s comments ahead of the Champions League final.

Courtois, 30, spent three seasons on loan at Atletico from 2011 to 2014, winning LaLiga but losing the Champions League final to rivals Real Madrid, who he later joined in 2018.

It is not known who was responsible for removing the plaque, which are dedicated to every player who has made over 100 appearances for Atletico. However, an spokesperson for the club confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday that the plaque had since been recovered and restored to its original position.

However, Atletico president Enrique Cerezo appeared to encourage fans to take matters into their own hands when asked about calls for the plaque to be removed on Monday.

“Take a pick and shovel and go and remove it,” he told reporters.

Courtois made reference to his 2014 final loss ahead of last Saturday’s Champions League final, which Madrid won 1-0 against Liverpool in Paris after the goalkeeper made a series of stunning saves.

“It was different for me [in 2014],” Courtois said in a pre-match news conference. “When Real Madrid play a final, they win it, so now I’m on the right side of history.”

That comment did not go down well with Atletico fans, who took it as a jibe aimed at their club.

Thibaut Courtois has been unpopular at Atletico Madrid since joining local rivals Real in 2018.

Even the mayor of Madrid Jose Luis Martinez Almeida — well known as an Atletico supporter — mentioned the remarks in a ceremony during Madrid’s trophy parade on Sunday, saying “those of us who cried with you in Lisbon [the venue for the 2014 final] were on the right side too.”

Courtois has been unpopular with Atletico fans ever since deciding to move to Real Madrid from Chelsea in 2018.

During a Madrid derby in September 2019, fans threw toy rats at Courtois during the game, while his plaque was vandalised with garbage and graffiti.

Courtois said on Saturday that a “lack of respect” had inspired his Champions League final heroics after the magazine FourFourTwo left him out of a list of the world’s 10 best goalkeepers earlier this year.

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