Antonio Conte discussed his childhood and why he was always a Coach, even during his days playing in the Lecce youth academy.
The Chelsea manager spoke to Sky Sport Italia series Mister Condo’ in a lengthy interview.
“I had a great childhood, spending my entire time in the streets playing football or tennis, as there were very few cars then. Our parents were often working and we had to learn to ‘survive’ by ourselves without being mollycoddled.
“I always wanted to play football, every minute of the day, and the Priests allowed us to play in their courtyard as long as we were good and did all our duties in the Church.
“When there is more comfort, there is less desire to work hard and sacrifice yourself to earn things. On the street, by which I mean just climbing trees to get the ball, you learned things. You never see kids climbing trees now, nor parents who will let them.
“My father certainly passed something on to me. He was the President, Coach and everything really of this local side, Juventino Lecce. I was playing in the Lecce youth academy and spent my spare time coaching my little brother’s team, so I always had that desire to be a Coach and pass something on.”
Eugenio Fascetti gave Conte his Serie A debut for Lecce against Pisa in April 1986, aged 16 years and eight months.
“He was famous for ‘organised chaos.’ In that period, he was very innovative. I still hear from him and he is someone who really gave me so much. When someone lets you debut at the age of 16, it shows great faith.
“Fascetti gave Antonio Cassano his debut as well. When you talk about a phenomenon who grew up on the streets, you’re talking about Cassano. He could do things with the ball that were simply extraordinary – on another planet to my skills!
“I still speak to Carlo Mazzone too. He made me grow up through suffering, as he used the stick as well as the carrot. He taught me so much and when I’m asked about the Coaches I worked with, I will never forget Fascetti and Mazzone, as I continue to carry with me their teachings.”
The first time he took his future wife Elisabetta to dinner, she was not impressed by his vehicle.
“I bought this Porsche, one of the few expensive buys I made in my time as a football player. I went to pick her up and as she got in the car, she was rather uncomfortable. On the second date, my Porsche had broken down, so I met her in a FIAT. Much more me!”