Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga apologised to his former coach Maurizio Sarri over a 2019 Carabao Cup final substitution incident.
The Italian manager wanted the Spanish goalkeeper substituted during extra time in the final against Manchester City, but he ignored the manager’s decision and continued playing.
Chelsea eventually lost the game in a penalty shootout after Kepa failed to save four of the five penalties taken.
Speaking to The Players’ Tribune, the 26-year-old said that he did not mean to disrespect his manager,, noting that it was just a misunderstanding between them.
Arrizabalaga said that he was trying to signal to the manager that he was not injured but Sarri could not understand him because of the noisy Wembley crowd.
He regrets that he didn’t come off the field when the referee on the touchline held up the substitute board.
“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 (Caballero), 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.”
He further explained that it was not his intention to undermine the coach’s decision in public.
“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 Sarri. I felt misunderstood because it had never been my intention to snub the coach. I had only tried to tell him I was okay. I tried to explain this to the Press, but I couldn’t.”
Arrizabalaga joined Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao in 2018 for a £72 million record transfer fee.
Since his arrival, he has won the Uefa Europa League and the Uefa Champions League titles with the Blues.