UEFA.com has a (virtual) chat with Thibaut Courtois as Real Madrid return to training.
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Real Madrid have returned to training as the challenge of completing their 2019/20 campaign begins in earnest, which means release from lockdown for Thibaut Courtois.
The Belgian goalkeeper spoke to UEFA.com about how he got through two months without football, and how it feels to be back on the training ground again.
On returning to training…
We're dealing pretty well with it. It's always nice to spend some time at home with your family, but you start getting a bit bored after a few weeks. You want to go back, to train and to play. [I was training at home on] the treadmill, weights, those sorts of things. Luckily I have a garden and I can also work out outside. On my first day of training, after two months, it felt like coming back after a week and I hadn't lost anything. So that was good, and that's why I feel prepared for what's coming.
Of course, there's a protocol we have to follow. The first week more than anything was a bit weird. At least I was training with the goalkeeping coach but he couldn't shoot or pass or anything. So that was a bit strange to start with but then we got used to it. The goalkeeping work I've been doing has been the same as I've been doing for the last 11 years as a professional so luckily that hasn't really changed. We're really looking forward to playing games in training, 11 against 11, everyone smiling, without these problems. But we're going bit by bit.
At the end of the day, I've rested for two months, which is almost impossible the rest of the time. There are never two months during the season where you aren't exposed to that constant stress and adrenaline. Which is cool, too, because being a football player and playing in stadiums and playing those big games, the adrenaline and the pressure in your body is addictive and we like it. It pushes you to perform better. But having two months to rest a little bit and to work on your body in order to improve your physical condition has been of great help.
It's not that I've started cooking or things like that. I've barely turned on the TV. I've been watching some series, like the Michael Jordan one, but nothing really more than that. I've spent a lot of time playing video games, participating in tournaments for all kinds of video games. Honestly, I've had a good time and I've seen many sportspeople have joined these virtual gaming initiatives. The lockdown has been a great boost for the world of eSports; I think they've been the only ones that have benefited.
On keeping in touch…
I've been talking with my children, who live five minutes away. Still, I haven't seen them in a month because of the lockdown. I could be an asymptomatic carrier, so I didn't want to take any risks until a certain time had passed and I could make sure I didn't have [COVID-19].
I do call some of my friends a bit more often. When you play PlayStation, in the parties there are six, seven, eight of us. And you're talking as if it were a call. The only thing that was different this year was my birthday, which was on 11 May. My sister prepared a surprise for me with really cool videos of people I really love.
But what I've really missed is watching live football matches, watching NBA games, watching Formula One. That's what I've missed the most.