The eternal unlucky Koen Casteels: just when he was number 1 at the Red Devils, he has to drop out (again) at a crucial moment


Again bad luck for Koen Casteels (31). Just when he was number 1 for the Red Devils due to Courtois’ injury, he fell ill. The goalkeeper seems to be cursed with the national team because he also missed a World Cup and a European Championship.

Koen Casteels will end his contract with the German club next summer after 9 years at Wolfsburg and will not sign again. So he is looking forward to a transfer and it would not have been bad if he had been able to put himself in the spotlight with the Red Devils. He already did that in the previous European Championship qualifying matches, certainly against Azerbaijan and to a lesser extent against Estonia.


The goalkeeper will not be present for the next two matches against Austria and Sweden. He fell ill with the Red Devils and is unable to play. That feeds the idea that Casteels often dropped out at crucial moments with the national team. When Thibaut Courtois packed up his bags in Tubize in June, Casteels was also not in the selection due to a minor injury. As a result, Matz Sels was in goal in Estonia.

62 selections, only 7 caps

In fact, the talented Flemish Brabander has been a reserve goalkeeper for the Devils for 11 years, in the shadow of Thibaut Courtois and before that also a bit of Simon Mignolet. He collected 62 selections for Belgium, but only has 7 caps. Casteels also missed the 2014 World Cup when he suffered a tibia fracture and also the 2020 European Championship when a pin in his shin had to be removed because it was causing him too much discomfort. Bad luck…

He only made his debut with the national team on September 8, 2020 against Iceland (5-1) in the Nations League. Even then he had to be replaced after 55 minutes because he suffered a bleeding wound. It was only a year later that he played a full match against Belarus, and in addition there were matches against Wales (twice), Germany and Azerbaijan and Estonia. Under national coach Domenico Tedesco, he had moved up in the hierarchy since the resignation of Simon Mignolet and the retirement of Courtois. According to Casteels, the German trainer also knows him better than previous national coach Roberto Martinez.

Sels hasn’t conceded a goal yet

But now disaster strikes again. Koen Casteels himself, however, claims that it is only a perception that he is prone to injuries. It is not without reason that the goalkeeper played 256 matches for Wolfsburg. Dropping out for the 2020 European Championship was his own choice because as the third goalkeeper he might not play after all. He doesn’t like that stamp. The goalie also debunks the story that 18-year-old Thibaut Courtois was preferred to 18-year-old Casteels at RC Genk in 2010 because he was injured at the time. It was purely a sporting choice and Casteels subsequently built his own wonderful career.

But things are not going well for the Red Devils. Matz Sels (31) will soon be in goal against Austria (and normally also against Sweden). The Strasbourg goalkeeper has made 46 selections and will receive his fourth and fifth cap. He has played so far in Estonia (0-3) and two practice matches against Burkina Faso (3-0) and Greece (1-1), but in the latter match he only came on for Mignolet for one minute. As a Devil, he did not concede a single goal.


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