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UEFA Men's Player of the Year nominee: the case for Thibaut Courtois

The Real Madrid and Belgium goalkeeper is one of the top three nominees for the 2021/22 UEFA Men's Player of the Year award.

Thibaut Courtois is one of the top three nominees for the 2021/22 UEFA Men's Player of the Year award.

UEFA.com analyses why he is in the running alongside Karim Benzema and Kevin De Bruyne.

Men's Player of the Year nominees

Why he was nominated

The goalkeeper, who won two domestic trophies with Madrid last season, saved his best displays for when Carlo Ancelotti's men needed them most during their remarkable run to UEFA Champions League glory.

The Belgian got better as the Meringues' season unfurled as he was voted Liga Player of the Month in February and Champions League Player of the Match in their semi-final decider against Manchester City. He scooped the latter award in the biggest game of all, denying Liverpool time and again in Paris to ensure the trophy returned to the Spanish capital.

2021/22 in numbers

UEFA Champions League winner, Spanish Liga winner, Spanish Super Cup winner

UEFA Champions League
Appearances: 12
Clean sheets: 5
Player of the Match awards: 2

Domestic League
Appearances: 36
Clean sheets: 16

Top three performances

Player of the Match: Thibaut Courtois

Liverpool 0-1 Real Madrid
It took a Player of the Match performance from Courtois to ensure the Reds were held at bay as the English side dominated for long spells in the Champions League final. He made nine saves overall with the picks coming from Sadio Mané in the first half and Mohamed Salah late on – team-mates mobbed the Belgian after the latter.

Real Madrid 3-1 Manchester City
Madrid's late heroics may have grabbed the headlines but that would not have been possible were it not for Courtois' performance – a critical stop from Jack Grealish with an outstretched boot and flying leap to thwart João Cancelo were the stand-out saves. The Champions League Player of the Week honour followed his Player of the Match one this time.

Paris 1-0 Real Madrid
Madrid's turnaround in the second leg of this round of 16 tie would never have happened had Courtois not kept their heads above water in Paris. Though eventually beaten at the death by a near-unplayable Kylian Mbappé, the goalkeeper denied the livewire striker on two key occasions and saved a Lionel Messi penalty to limit the damage.

Who was last year's winner?

Jorginho won the 2020/21 UEFA Men's Player of the Year award after becoming only the tenth player to win a European Cup and a EURO in the same year. The midfielder inspired Chelsea to UEFA Champions League glory with his ability to dictate play and Roberto Mancini took note, making him the linchpin of Italy's EURO 2020-winning side.