Vincent Kompany says Thibaut Courtois is “massively important” for Belgium after he saved a penalty in a nervy opening World Cup win over Canada.
Belgium were largely second best against Canada, who had 22 shots but failed to score.
Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies saw an early penalty saved by Real Madrid goalkeeper Courtois, who is first goalkeeper to save a penalty for Belgium at a World Cup since 1966.
Courtois also saved well from Alistair Johnston.
“He’s massively important for this Belgium team,” former Belgium captain Kompany said about Courtois on the BBC.
“He has a volleyball background which means for his size he can get close to the ground really quickly, and he’s calm.
“I think the biggest thing you can wish for from your goalkeeper is just someone who is calm, picks up the ball and takes off the pressure. He feels the momentum of the game so well and is an important player for us.”
While Belgium escaped with the victory, the performance was far from impressive.
However, Kompany said the result was more important, especially after seeing Germany and Argentina lose their opening games to lower-ranked teams.
“They won, that’s what matters. Belgium will learn some lessons from this game.
“You have to go for the win. France became world champions four years ago and they were awful in the group stage.
“I hope it’s not a blueprint for the rest of the tournament for how teams can hurt us, that’s the only thing.”
Romelu Lukaku missed the game as he recovers from injury but could return later in the group stage.
Belgium also face Morocco and Croatia in Group F.
“Hopefully Lukaku coming back will bring something to the team and there are players on the bench with less experience but a different profile which might help,” added Kompany.
“Hopefully they win the next game and then they can pick and choose when they introduce him.”
Belgium’s next game is against Morocco on Sunday.
Morocco and Croatia drew 0-0 earlier in the first Group F match.
Reflecting on Belgium’s result, head Roberto Martinez said: “I’m delighted because we won the game through grit, experience, and the quality of our goalkeeper, who kept us in the game.
“Canada deserved to be better than us but the result reflected the things we had to do and the way we defended for each other.”