sport news Kepa Arrizabalaga says he's learned from row with Maurizio Sarri

When Kepa Arrizabalaga reflects on his first season at Chelsea and the biggest difference between London and his life in the Basque Country, he reaches for the gloom.

'I am used to the rain,' says Kepa. 'It rains a lot in Bilbao so that hasn't been so bad but the biggest thing was in the winter when it gets dark so quickly.'

He has welcomed the change in the seasons. Spring has enabled him to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. As a boy he would spend hours in the hills of northern Spain 'walking with the birds' and he is not the sort to stay cooped up for long.

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has had an eventful debut season in English football

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has had an eventful debut season in English football

The passing of winter has also helped to distance him from the storm which erupted in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley.

Ten weeks have passed since he refused to be substituted, driving manager Maurizio Sarri into a touchline rage and leaving veteran back-up goalkeeper Willy Caballero fuming quietly.

Kepa, 24, was fined by Chelsea and dropped for one game and statements were issued but at last he is able to reflect and put it down to his lack of experience.

'It was news around the world,' says Kepa with a slight shake of his head and a sheepish smile.

'People were talking about it and talking badly. It is normal for people to talk. My father spoke to me after when we were at home but he didn't need to say a lot to me. By then I realised what I had done and there was not a lot left to say.

'It was a difficult week. It happened on Sunday, on Wednesday I didn't play against Tottenham and then I was back to play against Fulham.

'I accepted what the manager said and the club fine and I realised I wouldn't play the next game. I was right behind Willy and supported him and the team as much as I could.

'Of course, that was the only thing I could do. It was something I did in the heat of the moment. It's something I am not very proud of.

'It was a difficult moment which I've learned from and I'm still learning from. Now it's time for me to look forward.

'I said I was sorry. Football goes on. We all make mistakes.'

Kepa caused a storm in February when he refused to be subbed off in the Carabao Cup final

Kepa caused a storm in February when he refused to be subbed off in the Carabao Cup final

The game was goalless and heading towards penalties when the Chelsea goalkeeper twice called for treatment for what Sarri thought was cramp.

The manager decided to replace him and prepared Caballero, but Kepa made it clear he wasn't injured and did not want to come off ahead of the shootout.

After all, he had been the hero against Tottenham in the semi-finals when he saved from Lucas Moura in the same situation.

Only later did he realise how it had all looked to those watching the final. It didn't help when City went on to win the trophy.

'The only thing I wanted to say was that I was not injured and I was OK to carry on,' said Kepa. 'I was not thinking about the penalties.

'I wasn't totally aware of everything that had happened.

'It wasn't until I looked back for the first time at the images that I realised. I saw it from a different perspective. Until that point, it was like I was in a bubble and wasn't conscious of what was going on.

'I started to see it all when I arrived home for the first time and saw the video.

'That was the first time I realised what happened. I've learned a lesson and the next time it will be different. When I am asked to change, I will change.'


Kepa left boss Sarri furious when he refused to be substituted in the Carabao Cup final. He was then beaten four times as Chelsea lost on penalties to Manchester City. Caballero, who has a great penalty record, might just have saved them. 

The world's most expensive goalkeeper was born and raised in the Basque fishing village of Ondarroa, midway between Bilbao and San Sebastian.

He joined the celebrated academy of Athletic Club in Bilbao at the age of nine and would travel to training with four friends, who made the 45-minute journey together to the Basque city up to four times a week.

'My village was a mix of Athletic supporters and Real Sociedad supporters,' says Kepa. 'People either support one or the other. I chose from an early age to support Athletic and that's where I started to play as a kid.

'So I'd make the journey to Bilbao with friends by bus or taxis because my father was working and the club would put on some transport.

'That's how it was until I grew older and moved through the different age groups.

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