Despite starting her modelling career over a decade ago, 24-year-old Mishel Gerzig has only recently made her breakthrough in both Israel and abroad. It was, however, thanks to her romantic relationship with a Belgian soccer star Thibaut Courtois who plays for world-famous team Real Madrid.
Despite the fame and the accompanying benefits, Gerzig in an exclusine interview with Ynet's sister publication LaIsha says she will be the first to admit her frustration at the circumstances surrounding her meteoric rise to fame.
"I cannot say that I did not want to be famous before. In the modeling business, the more famous you are, the more work you get,” Gerzig explains.
“But over the years I have come to realize that no one will talk about you unless you star in some reality TV show, get involved in some scandal, or go out with someone famous.
“I refused to play the game. I said that if it holds so little value that I came from the periphery, that I served in the army, and that I represent Israel in the best way I can, then so be it. That at least I'm going to stay true to myself.”
Gerzig further explains that her decision to date Courtois had nothing to do with fame, and that she prefers to simply ignore people who are accusing her of chasing celebrity for merely following her heart.
"I know the truth and Thibaut knows the truth, that's all that matters,” says Gerzig, who adds that the relationship with the Real Madrid star began less than two months ago - contrary to media reports that said they started dating as early as April, when she was engaged to someone else.
"I had a relationship with someone I knew from the military for four and a half years, for two of which we were engaged. He is a private person, so I prefer not to expand on the break-up. I can say that by the time my relationship with Thibaut began, I was definitely no longer engaged."
According to Gerzig, she and Courtois met on Instagram.
“Thibaut saw a picture of me with my dog, Milo. He responded to my photo by writing ‘cutie’. I immediately knew who he was, because I love football. I said 'thank you' and we started corresponding.
“He started asking me questions about Israel, about the army. In April I had several jobs in Madrid, and then we met for the first time face-to-face. We met again in early July, that’s when the relationship between us became romantic,” Gerzig adds.
Courtois himself is 29-years-old and has two young children from a previous relationship - a fact Gerzig says doesn’t bother her despite some early reservations.
“Before I met Thibaut I too thought I would not enter into such a relationship, but once I met him it did not bother me at all. His kids are amazing,” the model adds.
When Courtois uploaded a picture of himself with Gerzig to Instagram with the caption “the love of my life,” not all responses were positive, with some calling to “free Palestine” due to the model being Israeli.
“Someone even asked him how he can date a ‘child killer’. From the [Israeli side] some criticized me for advocating for assimilation [by being in a relationship with a non-Jewish man]. I know it all stems from ignorance, so I don’t let it affect me that much.”
Gerzig adds that before each Shabbat, she and Courtois do the traditional Kiddush - blessing over the wine and sanctification of the day for Shabbat.
“Thibaut is very interested in hearing about the Jewish holidays. At the moment it is too early to talk about having kids together, but if there will be, we will combine our religions together. We will celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas,” says Gerzig.
Courtois himself added: “When I'm with Mishel, I learn about Israeli culture. I see from the pictures what a beautiful country it is and I just can’t wait to travel there. I'm very happy with Mishel, she's amazing. And I'm also very proud of her for her military service. Thanks to Mishel, my love of Israel has grown even more.”