Kepa Arrizabalaga speaks out on the moment that changed his Chelsea fortunes

You have to look at Kepa Arrizabalaga from last season and admire his mentality and professionalism.

He’s had a bit of a nightmare career at Chelsea so far, dropping form and confidence making mistakes, and eventually losing the number one spot to Edouard Mendy this season.

But even after all that, he was one of the most ecstatic celebrators after being an unused sub in Chelsea’s Champions League triumph last season, and this was after hardly playing at all.

He hasn’t sulked, he hasn’t moaned, and he’s even done a job when called upon.

There is a long way back for him at Chelsea, but it seems he is determined to keep working hard for the team and fight for his place, judging by his own words in an excellent interview he did with The Players Tribune today.

He’s also spoken about a moment that really tarnished his reputation in football and at Chelsea, and was perhaps the turning point towards disaster for him, when he refused to be subbed off for Willy Caballero in the League Cup final.

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But Kepa says it was all a misunderstanding and he regrets his actions…

“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.

“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.”