The Spaniard infamously refused to leave the Wembley pitch ahead of an ultimate penalty shootout defeat, with his manager left fuming on the night

Kepa Arrizabalaga has reiterated his remorse for his “big misunderstanding” during the 2019 Carabao Cup Final, issuing another apology to then-coach Maurizio Sarri for his part in Chelsea’s defeat to Manchester City.

The shot-stopper infamously refused to depart the pitch after being signalled for a substitution late on in extra-time ahead for Willy Caballero, ahead of a penalty shootout reverse against Pep Guardiola’s side at Wembley.

The incident sparked widespread discussion worldwide in the immediate aftermath, but now, two years later, the Spaniard has sought to further clarify the events that unfurled that day while offering another apology.

What has been said?

“Let’s just deal with that here once and for all,” Kepa wrote in the Player’s Tribune. “It was all a big misunderstanding. 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 OK, 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 team-mate and a great professional; and for all my team-mates 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.”

What happened in the 2019 Carabao Cup Final?

Having played out a goalless draw in regular time – and with neither side able to break the deadlock – Sarri made the choice to signal for Caballero to prepare for a penalty shootout, with the Argentine having previously won the competition as City’s shotstopper in 2016.

Kepa’s refusal to depart left his manager fuming, with Sarri almost departing down the tunnel following the incident, ahead of the subsequent shootout.

City went on to win 4-3, with the Spaniard managing to save only Leroy Sane’s effort from the spot.

The bigger picture

Since exiled as nominal first-choice keeper at Stamford Bridge under Thomas Tuchel, Kepa nevertheless remains a key squad player for the German and was a member of the Blues squad that won the Champions League last season, behind Edouard Mendy.

He previously made amends for his Carabao Cup misfire with a superb performance in the 2019 Europa League Final, to hand Sarri his only honour during his brief spell at Chelsra.

With the Blues looking to push on and challenge for more silverware this term, the Spaniard may find his chances restricted, though he looks set to remain with the club for the new campaign.

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