Selected to everyone’s surprise because of an operation necessary for Koen Casteels, Matz Sels lives a daydream in the group of the Red Devils. Third goalkeeper at the start of the tournament, the former Anderlecht goalkeeper is now Thibaut Courtois’ regular replacement since the departure of Simon Mignolet due to an injury.
The Strasbourg goalkeeper first returned to his place in the workforce in this competition. “I was already happy to be in the selection. I was fourth goalkeeper for the Euro and the 2018 World Cup so I was very close to being part of the selection. It wasn’t easy for me after my injury but it’s football. Koen Casteels had surgery, it’s a shame for him. Now I’m the second goalkeeper and I try to be ready in case I have to come in, you never know in football. Being second or third goalie doesn’t change much for me, I always try to be ready and perform well.“
The 29-year-old doorman recognizes the peculiarity of his position. “It’s a very special position, we are always a bit separated from the rest of the group. We are always between guards, we try to push the others. We are still competitors but in a nice way. The important thing is that everyone knows the hierarchy and what the coach expects from each.“
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A month ago, Belgium and Greece shared at the Stade Roi Baudoin (1-1). The opportunity for the native of Lint to honor his first milestone with the national team. “The coach told me before the match that I was scheduled to play after 60 or 70 minutes. During the game it was still 1-1 and the coach told me he was not in a position to change at the time. I understand because it was a preparation match for the Euro. That’s why he changed me at the end of the match and I’m very happy to have had a few minutes of playing time. I had around 25 caps, I’ve been in the squad for a long time and I had never played. I’m very happy to have been able to play for my country, that’s for sure.“
Surrounded by several world-class players in the Devils, the goalkeeper remains impressed by some of them. “I would quote De Bruyne whose strikes are bizarre: they go up before coming down at the last moment. Romelu has also seen a good development when you see what he has been doing for two years at Inter. Eden too. They are players with individual qualities.“
Now lining Thibaut Courtois, Sels knows his place in the workforce. “I try to learn a lot of things from him, he’s someone with high level experience. He does not need competition, he is always efficient. I try to help him with small things, we discuss the phases of the game. His influence leads to increased confidence in the defensive compartment.“