MILLWALL players would never pull a stunt like Kepa Arrizabalaga did in the League Cup final – because the consequences would be too severe.
Kepa refused to be substituted late on against Manchester City when manager Maurizio Sarri wanted to bring on Willy Caballero after the first-choice stopper had twice gone down with cramp.
Sarri at one stage looked like he was going to storm down the Wembley tunnel, before then appearing to try to confront Kepa before the penalty shootout.
Kepa saved from Leroy Sane from twelve yards but let a weak effort from Segio Aguero squirm under his body as City retained the trophy.
Millwall goalkeeper David Martin sympathised with Kepa, but stressed no Millwall player would defy Neil Harris in such a way.
“No, I don’t think so,” Martin laughed. “I think the repercussions would be not worth it. My opinion on it is if you do see your number going up it’s out of your hands then.
“I can see both sides of it. I think once the manager does put your number up you’ve got to walk off.
“But I understand Kepa’s side of it, he wants to be the hero. He wanted to take that risk of staying on if it was going to go to penalties. But it didn’t work out.
“If they’d won and he’d made saves it all would have been okay. But it left everyone in a bad position. The manager probably feels some shame after putting the player’s number up, and from his reaction you could tell he wasn’t best pleased.
“Kepa was selfish in a way, but in a good way.
“I remember playing a game [for MK Dons] against Gillingham away and I ended up having an injury. We’d already made all the subs. The manager, Karl Robinson, wanted to take me off but I told him, ‘you might as well leave me on’. I ended up having a discussion with him and staying on, even though I was hobbling around.
“I’ve never really seen it happen before, but in a game like that you can tell the mentality of Kepa. Sometimes the goalkeeper wants to be the hero and main man, and be remembered for saving penalties. That probably has influenced his decision to stay on.”
Meanwhile, Martin, who is out of contract in the summer, has addressed his own future.
The 33-year-old stopper has made just four Millwall appearances, one in the league, since joining in September 2017.
“I will look at every opportunity that I have, whether that’s playing or doing something similar to now,” former MK Dons goalkeeper Martin said.
“It will have to be the best situation for me and my family. You can only sometimes react to the card you have been dealt and hopefully you make the right decision.
“Any decision that has ever been made in football is a gamble because there’s never a foregone conclusion in anything you do.
“One thing I do know is I will give it everything I’ve got. Here, if the gaffer ever needed to call on me I’m ready to go.
“Or whatever club in future might call on me I’ll be ready. It’s just being strong enough to deal with that.”
Image: Millwall FC