English football fans are aghast after a star goalkeeper defied his manager’s attempt to substitute him ahead of a penalty shootout in extra time, refusing to leave the field.
The unprecedented mutiny came in Sunday’s showpiece Carabo Cup final at Wembley between Chelsea and Manchester City.
The game was locked at 0-0, with extra time about to end. But Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga had just been treated for cramp, so manager Maurizio Sarri summoned a substitute from the bench – prompting a furious reaction from Arrizabalaga.
Wildly gesticulating with his arms, Arrizabalaga – the world’s most expensive goalkeeper – let Sarri know in no uncertain terms that he was ready to face penalties against Manchester City.
But Sarri was determined to bring on Willy Caballero, who saved three spot kicks in the 2016 League Cup final while in City’s winning side.
Sarri tried to sub off Chelsea's goalkeeper, Kepa…but he refused to leave, and Sarri flipped out 😳
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 24, 2019
Arrizabalaga, who joined Chelsea in August for 80 million euros (A$127 million), simply refused to leave the field.
After more furious finger-wagging and screams of “no!”, Sarri was forced to give in.
Referee Jonathan Moss ran over to confirm whether Arrizabalaga was going off or not before Sarri begrudgingly backed down and stormed off down the players’ tunnel.
The on-field row brought a bemused reaction from commentators.
“Once your number goes up you have to come off and show a bit of respect,” former Chelsea captain John Terry said on Sky Sports.
Former Blues manager Jose Mourinho said seeing Sarri undercut by Kepa made him “really sad”.
“I don’t like that he leaves his coach and the assistant coach in a situation of great fragility,” Mourinho said while covering the match in Spain for the internet streaming service DAZN.
Publicly humiliated and with his authority undermined, Sarri returned to the field only to watch the end of extra time.
Last minute of extra-time in a cup final
Kepa Arrizabalaga: https://t.co/NYB5Ffcx6M
— Jœl (@Joelissimmo) February 24, 2019
Kepa Arrizabalaga has just set a new precedent for the power players have in Football ….. The boss should have walked on a dragged him off ….. #Fact
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) February 24, 2019
“I’ve never seen it [before],” City captain Vincent Kompany said.
“I wish I could do it every now and then when I don’t want to get subbed off.”
In the shootout, Arrizabalaga made one save before Raheem Sterling completed a 4-3 victory on penalties to defend City’s title and keep them in contention for a quadruple.
After collecting his runners-up medal, Sarri sought to diffuse the controversy.
“It was a big misunderstanding,” the 60-year-old said.
“I understood the goalkeeper had cramp and for me he was unable to go to penalties but the problem was not cramp so he was able to go to penalties.
“He was right for the motivation but not for the conduct.”
In his defence, Arrizabalaga said afterwards that it had been a misunderstanding and he had not intended to defy his boss.
“It was two or three minutes of confusion until the medics got to the bench, and they explained everything well,” he said.