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Published: Sun, July 08, 2018
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Belgium's Thibaut Courtois says he 'never mocked' Jordan Pickford

Belgium's Thibaut Courtois says he 'never mocked' Jordan Pickford

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois insists his highly publicised recent comments on Jordan Pickford were not meant to belittle England's number one.

England face Sweden in the quarter-finals of the World Cup on Saturday.

"Gaffer always said step by step - first thing get out the group stage, tough opponent versus Colombia then another against Sweden, so now whoever it'll be we'll plan and recover well before Wednesday".

Substitute Dier was relieved to see his penalty squirm past David Ospina, after missing a great chance to seal a last-eight spot in extra time.

"I would never do that to another goalkeeper I just meant that being 15 centimetres taller, I would have got the ball", Courtois said.

"Me boy is a fuckin' hero", he shouts repeatedly at the screen, pointing to Pickford buried under a pile of jubilant England bodies.

Pickford was just two years old when England last won a penalty shootout, a few days older when the now-England coach Gareth Southgate missed the deciding penalty in a European Championship semifinal loss to Germany.

"I want to make that clear", Courtois said after his own stellar performance against Brazil helped Belgium reach the semi-finals.

At least this time they knew what was coming, and that a happy ending was on its way, re-watching England's first ever World Cup penalty shootout win safe in the knowledge that Eric Dier would score the victor.

"I never mocked his height, he is a great goalkeeper".

'I would never do that to another goalkeeper (criticise his height). He proved it this year.

Southgate pointed to England's lack of world-class players, something he attributed to the scarcity of opportunity at the cashed up local clubs who can take their pick of the world's elite young talent. "He's able to play that way that I think we want to play moving forward", Southgate told journalists.

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