Thibaut Courtois says he wants to return to Spain and admits he cried when he had to leave Atletico Madrid to return to Chelsea.
The Belgium keeper spent three seasons at Atletico between 2011 and 2014 as he continued his development while Petr Cech retained the gloves at Stamford Bridge.
But then-Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho ended Courtois’ spell in La Liga when he brought the former Genk goalkeeper back from Madrid and handed him the No.1 spot.
The Blues won the title in Courtois’ first season back but the club endured a miserable campaign last year, during which the keeper suffered injury problems and inconsistent form.
Courtois has never hidden his desire to one day return to Spain, and the 24-year-old told spoke to Marca on Tuesday about his love of the country and specifically Madrid.
“I feel half Spanish”, Courtois said. “When I said goodbye I had a bad time. I had cold blood, it was not easy. I cried.
“Atletico is a family club. I still feel their love.”
When asked if he wants to return to Atletico, Courtois said: “Yes, but not only because of the club, but how Madrid is and the whole country.
“From the first minute I fell in love with Spain for its people, lifestyle, food… I still maintain eating dinner and then an afternoon nap, most of the television is Spanish… I am half Spanish.”
Courtois raised the possibility of leaving Chelsea in two years when he enters the final year of his current contract.
“When I left Spain I had it clear in my mind that one day I was going to return there.
“I have a contract with Chelsea for three more years.
“In 2018, when I enter the final year of my contract, we will have to evaluate if it is better to renew or walk away.”
Real Madrid may also be in the market for anew goalkeeper by that time, and Courtois revealed that Atletico’s great rivals were in touch last season.
“When I injured my knee they sent me a fax wishing me a prompt recovery,” he said.
Despite Courtois’ desire to move on from Stamford Bridge, the goalkeeper has praised new Chelsea coach Antonio Conte.
“He always thinks about football and tactically he is very strong,” he said. “He knows what he wants from the team and through videos he ensures that we get his idea.
“With Conte we know that, provided we work, the games will go well. His plan is to play well starting from the back and that suits me.”