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Havertz admits to nerves on winning penalty even as Azpilicueta ran decoy for Chelsea against Palmeiras

The game within the game

Chelsea v Palmeiras: Final - FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2021 Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Kai Havertz hasn’t quite been the all-conquering force for Chelsea that he had been for Bayer Leverkusen — be that in terms of position, involvement, or scoring — but he’s now provided the winning goals on two of our biggest nights in recent history, following up his winning goal in the 2021 Champions League final with the winning goal in the 2021 Club World Cup final. And he’s been here for less than two seasons!

Big Game Kai Havertz, indeed.

You might think that means he’s got ice in his veins, but in a bit less iconic post-match interview than the one he gave in Porto back in May, he’s revealed that he’s only just human like the rest of us.

“I was [nervous] to be honest. I mean it’s a big penalty — just crazy. I think it was good I kept the nerves and very happy.

“I was the third penalty taker. Jorgi and Rom they both were out so I was the only one on the pitch and the other players gave me trust. Hakim, Azpi, everybody they said you do it and I did it.”

-Kai Havertz; source: Channel 4 via Football.London

Perhaps the 22-year-old was remembering his missed shot in the shootout against Villarreal in the Super Cup at the start of the season. Perhaps he was suddenly just a bit too aware of the magnitude of the occasion. Chelsea’s young guns have been a fair bit nervous this week, possibly as a side-effect of the build-up and emphasis placed on winning this trophy.

And for a brief moment, it even looked like Havertz wouldn’t be the one taking it. César Azpilicueta was walking around and holding on to the ball as if it were his newborn baby. But as it turns out, the Captain was just doing Captain-y things, running decoy for Havertz to soak up some of the usual shenanigans from the opposition before handing the ball to Big Game Kai.

The Athletic’s Liam Twomey pointed this out on Twitter, and it was later confirmed by Azpilicueta himself in his post-match interview.

And so, the legend grows.

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