Ben Foster found it difficult to watch as Kepa Arrizabalaga appeared to defy Maurizio Sarri in the EFL Cup final, although he understood the Chelsea goalkeeper’s desire to “be the hero”.
Kepa twice went down injured late in extra-time against Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday, but he seemingly refused to be substituted as head coach Sarri fumed on the touchline.
The Spain goalkeeper saw out the remainder of the goalless draw, only to let a poor Sergio Aguero penalty slip past him in the penalty shoot-out as City won the trophy for the second season running.
Both Kepa and Sarri initially claimed the incident was “a misunderstanding”, although the player has since been fined one week’s wages following the incident.
Watford goalkeeper Foster could understand why Kepa acted as he did, but he believes communication between the two should have been much better.
“I was almost watching from behind a pillow, to be honest with you,” Foster told Omnisport ahead of Thursday’s London Football Awards 2019. “It was not nice.
“I feel for the goalkeeper because he wants to play the final few minutes, he wants to go and do the penalties and be the hero. I challenge any goalkeeper to say otherwise really. There are very few of us who would want to come off in the situation.
“I think it’s a massive lack of communication from somebody, somewhere along the lines. It could have all been sorted if, at that point, he’d gone over to the manager and literally just said, ‘I’m fine, I’m absolutely fine’.
“Unless he wanted to change him for the penalties, because [substitute goalkeeper] Willy Caballero used to play for Manchester City, then it’s a different story. But I think it’s just a lack of communication.
“As a goalie and a grown, adult man, just say, ‘no, I’m fine, it’s cool’. The flailing of arms and all that kind of stuff, I think, is a little bit unnecessary but each to their own.”
Foster has starred on his return to Vicarage Road since joining from West Brom this season and has been shortlisted for the London Football Awards’ Goalkeeper of the Year, a prize Kepa is also up for.
“It’s great, it’s just a bit of recognition to be honest with you,” Foster said about the nomination. “It was a big deal for me to move down here in the summer, but I quickly realised it was the right decision.
“I’ve just had a really, really good time so far, enjoying my football. It’s a great club, great to be a part of.”