Sunday December 9 2012
Conte: 'Ban made me stronger'

Antonio Conte was back on the Juventus bench after four months and hailed his “special players” for a victory in Palermo.

“It is inevitable that it causes you pain when you’re away from the field for such a long time, even if you get to work with the team during the week,” said Conte.

“You miss the emotions of the game, but I have been forced to face this situation and hope that it was at least helpful to build character.

“The team reacted in an extraordinary manner and I thank the players, because they really are special. So is the club and perhaps so am I. I am fortunate enough to have a great staff, as Massimo Carrera and Angelo Alessio did brilliantly in replacing me and giving orders from the touchline.

“The fact we are so in sync allowed us to deal with the situation in the best way possible.”

The Coach had been banned for four months for failing to alert authorities to a potential fix when he was at Siena – charges he has always denied.

“When you do your job with the passion and enthusiasm that I bring to it, then being out of the game after preparing it can make you feel as if you’re missing something. Of course, I prefer to train the side during the week and not lead the match rather than having nothing to do with them at all.

“I was able to get to know certain people better and the experience fortified me. There is little positive in being behind a glass wall in the stands.

“If this ban had happened last year, it would’ve been the end for me and for Juventus.”

His comeback coincided with a hard-fought 1-0 victory away to Palermo, sealed by Stephan Lichtsteiner.

“We have got to score more goals and if Palermo had equalised then we would’ve gone into a training camp for two days. We have to be more clinical, as a free kick can change everything and that would’ve been criminal.”

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