At almost 39, Willy Caballero is showing little sign of a willingness to hang up his gloves.
The Argentine stopper had been giving the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, a run for his money at Chelsea prior to the coronavirus-enforced hiatus, while he recently signed a one-year contract extension to keep him at Stamford Bridge until the end of the 2020/21 campaign.
With Caballero and the Blues returning to group work this week, as the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’ ramps up, the former Manchester City and Malaga keeper spoke to 90min.es about everything from teammate N’Golo Kante being given permission to miss training, his own plans for the future and his relationship with Kepa…
On preparing for the return of football…
“We need a minimum of three weeks of preparation to get back physically. When we have holidays, we usually have a month to get back in shape and now we have been stuck inside our houses for two months.
“It’s a physical and mental challenge for all players.”
On Kante missing training over COVID-19 fears…
“Not only did N’Golo make that decision, but several players from other teams did the same. All decisions are understandable in the context of how they have experienced this pandemic.
“Many do not want to return until they feel guarantees and security. I believe that in this phase, the risk of contagion is very low and that is why we feel very confident.
“But above all, the entire team supports what Kanté did.”
On his one-year contract extension this week…
“My idea was to keep going as long as possible at a great club. That was what I wanted and luckily it was fulfilled.
“Obviously, I want to play and get game time because it is the most beautiful thing there is and luckily this year it was my turn.
“I feel highly valued in the group and I think that was important for Chelsea to give me the opportunity to continue.
“I would love for us to qualify for the next Champions League and finish the season as FA Cup champions.”
On his future plans…
“At my age, I have been looking into the future for many years and thinking that at some point this will end.
“Luckily I have the possibility to continue playing, but I am already preparing. I would like to be a goalkeeping coach or part of the coaching staff.”
On THAT moment with Kepa in the Carabao Cup final…
“It is an incident that everyone can view in different ways, but I had to live it on the sideline as the person who was just about to come on.
“I could give my point of view but it would be unfair and few will understand his decision.”
On his relationship with Kepa…
“I get along very well [with Kepa] and our relationship grew a lot as a result of the episode in the final.
“The truth is that he has very good characteristics, he won the number one spot in the national team and last year had a very good season.
“It seems to me that this year did not go as well, as it did for the rest of the defence, and that is why I think he is being criticised.
“Being the most expensive goalkeeper in recent years, he is attacked much more. I know the comments hurt, but he’s going to have to live with it because it’s hard to be in Chelsea’s goal and having to do a good job every week.”
On his goalkeeping idols…
“Iker Casillas. He was an idol for me because he had a decade in which he achieved a number of things that most keepers want to do.
“I’ve also faced Ter Stegen, Courtois, Neuer. I take something from all of them, but I think Iker was a phenomenon.”