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First Words: Willy Caballero

Willy Caballero, who was signed at the start of the month following three years at Manchester City where his contract had expired, began training at Cobham this week. He also spoke to the official Chelsea website about his decision to swap City’s blue for ours, his early impressions, his aims and about saving penalties.

Here is what our newest goalkeeper (pictured above with technical director Michael Emenalo) said:

Why Chelsea?

When I received the call, when I listened to the opportunity to come to the champions and a fantastic team like Chelsea has had in the past decade to 15 years, when they built an amazing story, I didn’t have to think too much. I immediately said yes. It was a great opportunity to stay in the Premier League, in a big team, and to keep improving as a keeper.

I had a few opportunities to stay in the Premier League but the opportunity to join the champions, and not just because they were the champions, the opportunity to join a massive team like Chelsea, it was a big opportunity for me and my family.

Is the Premier League different from other competitions you have played in?

Definitely. In the way we play and we live in the Premier League, the organisation, everything is different. The most important for the people that watch the games is the way that we play. All the time it’s attack or counter-attack, it’s amazing for the people. We players do our best to close the game sometimes, but we know the power of other teams sometimes makes that difficult. It can be really difficult to win a game, and because of this it’s the most beautiful league for the fans.

Also, it’s really difficult to be the champions here. There are six or seven fantastic teams, and in other leagues there are just two or three. This is the biggest difference. 

Did you know Thibaut Courtois during your time both playing in Spain?

We played against each other three or four times in La Liga, and he showed when he was younger what a good keeper he is. We had the opportunity to talk after games. The players that he played with they told me he is a good guy.

Before signing, I didn’t know anyone else in the Chelsea squad personally. It’s a new challenge coming in to a new team with nobody that I met before.

We are training so hard now, there is a fantastic group of keepers, and I already know in just a few days that I am really happy with Thibaut and Eduardo. I will try to achieve their level and help them if I can in some ways.

What type of goalkeeper are you?

It’s difficult for me to say. I just try to play very concentrated and very focused, trying to be safe and secure. I try to bring security to my backline, my defenders, I try to talk a lot and advise them on everything. This is my way to be alive during the game.

When you were growing up, did you have any heroes, were they goalkeepers?

My hero was my father. He is a fantastic father and he worked really hard to allow me to train as a kid in another city far from my house. He did everything that allowed me to improve as a keeper and gave me money to do it.

As a keeper, I have one very good idol. He’s called Oscar Cordoba, he was a Colombian keeper and I played and trained with him at Boca Juniors. I received a lot of teaching from him at Boca Juniors. He showed me a lot of things that I like to do during the game.

Does your father come to see you play?

He lives in Argentina but he came to see me play at Manchester City a few times. He saw the cup final against Liverpool two years ago, and fingers crossed I have a lot of games to play here and he can come.

You played first team games at Man City, but often you were the substitute keeper. Does it take a special mental strength to be in that position?

I think us keepers are ready because we know that just one can play. We are ready because we compete every day with our substitute, or vice versa, when we aren’t the first choice. We have good relationships.

We have to achieve our best level to take the opportunity when it arrives. As a second keeper you must keep training hard, pushing, pushing, because when you receive the opportunity you must do it well. This has to be the mentality for a keeper or a second keeper.

In the last three years I have been the second keeper, and I tried to help a lot the first choice, Joe Hart and then Claudio Bravo, and when I had the opportunity I wanted to take it. Of course it’s hard but we are ready for it.

We remember you saving Eden Hazard’s penalty last season!

Yes, but it wasn’t good enough because he scored from the rebound! Sometimes we have an opportunity to make good saves, sometimes it’s good for the team and sometimes it’s not good enough.

You have a big reputation in England for saving penalties…

Yeah, in the last two seasons I have had the luck to save a few penalties. I probably took more confidence from the first and second ones in the cup. It’s really difficult and it’s not a science to say this penalty goes this way or that way. It’s more about intuition and if we know the taker, probably we can choose something, but it’s really difficult. 

Has saving penalties been a constant throughout your career?

Yeah. I watch a lot of penalties, the way the players run, the repetitions, but all the study changes when they’re in front of you. It’s about taking a decision at the right moment with the right tempo, and all your knowledge that you gained from before, you try to put in the current moment.

What are your impressions of Chelsea since you have been here? Have they been as you imagined they would?

Yeah. When I arrived I thought I would find a very good group, and I found it. I thought I would find a very good coach trying to push the players to the best level, and I found it. This is really good for me. 

Do you have any particular aims for the coming season?

As a group we have a lot of achievements to aim for. We want to win trophies in the same way Chelsea did in the last years. As a keeper I would like to play a lot of games, to keep improving and helping Thibaut and improving with him.