Chelsea: Kepa explains what really happened during clash with Maurizio Sarri

Kepa refused to come off vs Manchester City in 2019

In the summer of 2018, Chelsea made Kepa Arrizabalaga the most expensive goalkeeper in history.

The Blues forked out £72 million to bring the young Spaniard to London from Athletic Bilbao and it's a transfer that hasn't really worked out for the club.

Kepa is no longer Chelsea's number one after the acquisition of Edouard Mendy last year from Rennes.

The 26-year-old cannot really argue with his demotion either, as when he was the team's first-choice 'keeper, Kepa made far too many errors.

As well as committing a plethora of mistakes between the posts, the Spain international is also responsible for one of the most infamous moments in modern football history.

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In the 2019 League Cup final versus Manchester City, Kepa openly refused to leave the pitch when manager Maurizio Sarri tried to replace him with Willy Caballero in the final minute of extra-time.

Kepa had gone down with an 'injury' a few moments prior, so Sarri's decision to try and substitute the former Bilbao man was more than justified.

But the goalkeeper was having none of it and he remained on the pitch for the penalty shootout at Wembley Stadium - which Chelsea lost.

Kepa refuses to come off the pitch

So what really happened that day in the English capital? Neither Kepa or Sarri have ever really gone into detail about the incident - until now.

Writing in the The Players' Tribune, Kepa has provided his side of the story and it's clearly a moment from his career that still he regrets to this very day.

Kepa tells his side of the story

Kepa at Wembley

"For me, only that moment in the League Cup final tarnished my first season…. Let’s just deal with that here once and for all.

"It was all a big misunderstanding. Manchester City were dominating the game in extra time and there was barely any time left until penalties. After making a save, I felt something in my leg and I called for the physio to make sure it was nothing. Above all, though, I wanted to make sure that we as a team could catch our breath.

"Suddenly, I saw that the coach, Maurizio Sarri, had sent Willy Caballero to warm up. He thought I couldn't go on. My intention, right or wrong, had only been to waste time to help the team. I didn’t have any serious problem that was going to keep me from continuing to play.

"I tried to signal that I was O.K., that I wasn’t injured. But we were at Wembley in front of more than 80,000 people, so of course Sarri didn’t understand me. When the fourth official raised the board, clearly I should have come off, and I’m sorry I didn’t.

"I was wrong, and I am sorry for everyone who was involved: for Maurizio Sarri, who it seemed like I had undermined in public; for Willy, a teammate and a great professional; and for all my teammates and Chelsea fans who had to put up with everything — all the noise that was generated during the game and then in the days after.

Kepa refuses to come off

"Inside the club it was no big deal. I had a chat with the boss, we talked about how we had each seen the situation, and we cleared the air. After that I got dropped for one game, but a week later I was back in the team. I remember playing a great game against Fulham, and that was it. A couple of months later we knocked Frankfurt out of the Europa League semifinals and I saved two penalties in the shootout. Internally, everything was fine again.

"But outside the club, it got out of control.

"When I picked up my phone in the dressing room after the League Cup final, I realised that I had become worldwide news. For the next three or four days it didn’t stop. It was overwhelming. And clearly, most people who saw the pictures thought that I had disrespected Maurizio.

"I felt misunderstood, because it had never been my intention to snub the coach. I had only tried to tell him I was O.K.. I tried to explain this to the press, but I couldn’t.

"Luckily, now it is just an anecdote from the past. I still have a fantastic relationship with Maurizio. And next time, in a similar situation, I will know what to do.

"But it is an example that not everything is what it seems from the outside."

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Interesting, very interesting. Fair play to Kepa for admitting he was in the wrong and publicly apologising to Sarri and everyone else associated with Chelsea.

It's also intriguing to read that inside the club, the incident was not viewed as a big deal. Instead, it was the media and fans who turned it into one of the biggest footballing stories of the 2010s.

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