Chelsea reunited in Madrid: Thibaut Courtois welcomes Antonio Rudiger to European champions Real after star defender followed his path from Stamford Bridge to the Bernabeu
- Thibaut Courtois welcomed former team-mate Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid
- The German defender completed a free transfer on Thursday from Chelsea
- He joins the European Champions after six trophies and 203 games in five years
- Rudiger had already announced his intention to leave and written an open letter
Thibaut Courtois has welcomed his former Chelsea team-mate Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid.
The Real goalkeeper took to Twitter to congratulate the German defender after his long-awaited move from west London was made official on Thursday.
Rudiger is now the second Blues defender to leave the club this summer after rejecting a new contract, with Andreas Christensen already having departed Stamford Bridge for Barcelona.
Antonio Rudiger completed his Real Madrid switch, where he rejoins Thibaut Courtois
Courtois was quick to take to Twitter to welcome his former Chelsea pal to Real Madrid
The Blues released a statement, saying: ‘Rudiger made 54 appearances in all competitions in his final campaign, all from the start, more than any other Chelsea player.
‘He departs with 203 appearances and 12 goals to his name, in that time establishing himself as one of the most passionate characters to represent the club in recent memory.
‘Chelsea Football Club thanks Toni for his contribution to our success over the last five years and wishes him well in his future career.’
The German international had announced his decision to leave the club prior to the end of the season, and had already issued an open letter to Chelsea fans after five years and 203 appearances.
Rudiger finished the season with five goals and four assists, having started 54 Chelsea games
He said: ‘The trophies that I have won here — they are nice, for sure. But what really made Chelsea a special place were the friendships. We were more than team-mates.
‘So many of these guys they are like my brothers. That’s very rare in football, honestly.
‘Chelsea will always be in my heart. London will always be my home. I came here alone, and now I have a wife and two beautiful kids.
‘I have an FA Cup, a Europa League and a Champions League medal. And of course, I have hundreds of memories that will stay with me forever.’
Courtois, who joined Los Blancos in 2018, played 33 games for Chelsea with Rudiger in front of him, and after his heroics in the Champions League final against Liverpool the two are sure to form a formidable partnership.
Courtois produced a crucial man of the match performance in the Champions League final
In comparison to his new team-mate, Courtois’ exit from Stamford Bridge was far less amicable, and he has been the subject of boos from Chelsea fans on several occasions since his departure.
The Belgian international goalkeeper had made it clear he wanted to make the switch back to the Spanish capital back in 2018, to be closer to his family, who were based there following a period on loan at Real’s bitter rivals Atletico Madrid.
And after failing to report to pre-season training following the 2018 World Cup, then-boss Maurizio Sarri agreed to sell the goalkeeper rather than allow him to run down his contract and leave for free.
After the Champions League final, the Belgian commented on his status in the game and the boos he received from Chelsea fans during Real’s aggregate win over the Blues in the quarter finals of the competition.
He said: ‘I saw a lot of tweets coming my way that I would get humbled today – it was the other way round.
‘Today I needed to win a final for my career, for all the hard work to put respect on my name as I don’t think I get enough respect, especially in England.’