Kepa Arrizabalaga apologised for refusing to obey Maurizio Sarri‘s order for him to be substituted for Willy Caballero during extra time of Chelsea’s agonising penalty shootout defeat against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final.
Sarri became enraged on the Wembley touchline when Kepa angrily waved away the attempts of his Chelsea teammates and referee John Moss to get him to leave the field, creating what many perceived to be a moment of public insubordination that undermined his head coach.
Kepa went on to save Leroy Sane’s effort in the penalty shootout, but Jorginho and David Luiz missed from 12 yards for Chelsea to hand City victory after a goalless draw over 120 minutes.
After the match, Sarri insisted that it was nothing more than a “big misunderstanding,” and Kepa was adamant that he never intended to disrespect his head coach.
“I have to say it was misunderstood,” Kepa said. “In no moment was it my intention to disobey, or anything like that with the boss. Just that it was misunderstood, because I had been attended to by the medics twice, and he thought that I wasn’t in condition to continue.
“It was two or three minutes of confusion until the medics got to the bench, and they explained everything well. This was nothing to do with the problems I had this week, with [my hamstring]. It wasn’t that. And, well, it was misunderstood. Because he thought I couldn’t continue, and — fundamentally — I was trying to say that physically I was fine.
“I know if you see it from outside, I don’t know how it went out, it is not the best image. I have spoken with the boss. I think it was misunderstood. I understand that on television, on social media, they’re talking about this, but I am here to explain it, to say that it wasn’t my intention to go against the manager.
“We have spoken now, and I was only trying to say I’m fine. He thought I wasn’t fine. It was intense moments, with a lot happening …”
The goalkeeper also explained his behaviour in a tweet, in English and Spanish.
Kepa’s refusal to come off overshadowed an impressive performance from Chelsea against City following their historic 6-0 humiliation against the same opponents at the Etihad Stadium earlier this month, and the Spaniard was keen to switch the focus of discussion to the more encouraging aspects of the game.
“I know the image it’s given, but I never intended to refuse to go off,” he added. “It was only to say I was fine [to continue].
“I don’t think it has to be the major act of this final. I understand we played a good level against one of the best teams in the world. We were close to winning, obviously we’re sad that we didn’t, and I think the team needs to continue playing like this, because today we’ve shown we can compete against the best teams. Among the negatives, we have to take the positives.”
Joe Bright Nyarko
Journalist/Communication Researcher. Environment & Sustainability Advocate. Managing Editor of aptnewsghana.com, a non-profit news portal with bias towards environment and sustainability issues, rural development policies and gender & inequality.