MADRID/BRUSSELS: Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has said he will not go to next year’s European Championship in order to fully recover from a knee injury.

He is the second Real Madrid star ruled out of the finals in two days after Austrian David Alaba suffered an ACL injury at the weekend.

The Real Madrid keeper told Belgian television: “I need to recover fully, so it’s better to provide clarity now. If I’m lucky, I might be able to play a match come May, but I’ll never be ready for the tournament. I can’t be in the goal at 80% or 85%, I should step aside for other good players.”

Courtois, 31, was sidelined for months in October, after he needed surgery on a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee he suffered during a training session.

He said his decision to sit out Euro 2024 in Germany doesn’t have to be a final farewell from the national team, even though he walked out on the squad in June after a spat with coach Domenico Tedesco.

At the time, Tedesco said Courtois had felt overlooked for the team’s captaincy, but the goalkeeper said it was a lack of overall appreciation that prompted him to leave.

“That was the wrong decision, for which I apologise to the team and the fans,” said Courtois, who has been capped for Belgium 102 times since 2011.

“I still love to play for the national team. But this season I have to focus on Real Madrid, the European Championship does not fit in the picture of a perfect comeback.”