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Koen Casteels: Filling Courtois’ boots but keeping his head down

Koen Casteels was under enormous pressure before this Euro, even if he would never admit it. Present at a relaxed media moment this Saturday, he answered questions soberly without ever putting himself on a pedestal.

Koen Casteels has made some crucial saves in recent matches. Without him, the Red Devils would clearly not have reached the round of 16: Slovakia would have broken through, Romania would probably have equalised and Ukraine would have scored. The maths is easy.

“A football match is played with 11… and another goalkeeper might have been just as good,” Casteels plays down, comforted in his role as number 1 before the Euro at the expense of Matz Sels. “You can never say if this or that would have happened. Another goalkeeper might not have saved that ball, but he might have given two assists,” he smiles.

“It’s true that my performances have been good. But it’s hard to say whether or not qualification would have been achieved without this or that player,” Casteels estimates humbly. “Of course, it’s better that it happens like this rather than making mistakes. I’m having a good tournament, I’m satisfied.”

Is he one of the best goalkeepers of the group stage? In our eyes, probably, behind Mamardashvili and, perhaps, Donnarumma. “I don’t care, statistics are just statistics,” Casteels dismisses, not the talkative type.

But even if he doesn’t show it, one thing is for sure: deep down, the future Al-Qadsiah goalkeeper is savouring the moment. “A Euro is something special, so as a number 1… Of course, it’s one of the great moments of my career,” Casteels concedes.

Written by Mike Stempel

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