Kepa Arrizabalaga has proven Rio Ferdinand wrong after becoming the hero for Chelsea in their UEFA Super Cup triumph against Villarreal.
The Spanish goalkeeper, who has been the second choice at Stamford Bridge since Edouard Mendy signed for the club last summer, was introduced in the final few minutes of extra-time with a penalty shootout on the horizon.
The Blues took the lead through Hakim Ziyech, before the Morocco star was taken off injured later in the first half, but Villarreal equalised in the second period through Gerard Moreno.
The Chelsea goalkeeper then saved two penalties in the shootout, first from Aissa Mandi and then the deciding spot-kick from Raul Albiol to seal a 6-5 win on spot-kicks.
The ex-Manchester United defender said: “Normally, you’d be thinking, ‘why am I coming off, I need to be on, I’m the number one goalkeeper’.
“But he [Mendy] seemed very accepting in this situation, maybe it was spoken about beforehand.
“I don’t remember thinking Kepa is a dominant goalkeeper when it comes to penalties, correct me if I’m wrong, but they must’ve planned this, gives him a bit of confidence, but I don’t know – it’s crazy.
“With Mendy in goal, I fancied Chelsea, but now, I’m not too sure. I don’t mean to sound disrespectful to Kepa, but Mendy is such a composed, confident goalkeeper, he fills you with confidence, the size he is, he fills the goal.
“Now, I think it’s much more even.”
However, Ferdinand was proven wrong by the club’s joint-record signing after his heroics in the shootout.
Speaking after Chelsea secured the Super Cup triumph, Ferdinand said: “He’s been under immense pressure, immense scrutiny, since he’s come to the club for various reasons and I think you can see today, after this save, what his presence is like, what he means to the squad.
“They were all over him straight away, to a man, what it meant to them, and they were bang on him. Obviously, Thomas Tuchel knew something we didn’t.
“Before every penalty was taken, he was right up in the faces of the Villarreal players, he’s got something about him, he’s got character, and you get your rewards sometimes for hard work.
“Behind the scenes, he’s obviously putting in the hard work and he got his rewards today.”