It was one of the most bizarre moments of last season.

With the Carabao Cup final between Chelsea and Man City locked in a stalemate deep into extra time, penalties loomed.

And after Blues keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga had gone down with a suspected injury, former Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri made the call to substitute his keeper.

But not to be denied a chance to be a potential hero, Kepa was soon on his feet and waving away the calls to leave the field as his manager fumed on the touchline.

Sarri was almost down the tunnel in protest at one point – and his former assistant and Blues legend Gianfranco Zola has now revealed what really happened.

Kepa had feigned injury prompting Sarri to action the substitution

“In the beginning he [Kepa] misunderstood,” Zola told beIN Sports . “He was pretending he was injured because he wanted to waste time.

“There was nothing really wrong but we then made some considerations. We knew we had Willy Caballero on the bench, who knew all of the Manchester City players and so it was an opportunity for us.”

Kepa had merely feigned injury with just minutes left on the clock in February’s final, but Sarri was still keen to bring on Caballero for the shootout.

But Kepa refused to come off

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The veteran stopper had performed well in previous shootouts for former club City, and the Blues’ staff believed his knowledge of his old teammates would be a huge advantage.

But Kepa was having none of it.

“We were going to make the change,” Zola explained. “It wasn’t pre-arranged but we saw the day before he was injured, so we thought it was the injury coming back and we saw an opportunity because Caballero knows the Manchester City players so he can also be a good thing; simple as that.

Sarri wanted to bring on the experienced Caballero and fumed at Kepa from the sidelines

“It was obviously not an easy situation to deal with. We could not believe it, we were speechless, we kept telling him to come off but he didn’t come.”

After a standoff between player and manager that seemed to last forever, Kepa eventually got his way, and remained on the field for the shootout – only for City to win 4-3 on pens, despite the Spaniard making one save.

City lifted the trophy and Kepa was subsequently dropped for the next match.

Perhaps he should have listened to his manager after all.





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