Antonio Conte reveals his difficulties adapting to Juventus as a player and the importance of the captain’s armband.
“In November 1991 I moved to Juventus. It was a big move, the first on my own,” the Chelsea manager told Sky Sport Italia programme Mister Condo’.
“At the start I thought, why am I doing this? I’m earning more, but I’m away from home, from my friends, from the sea. I only remained because I didn’t want to return as a loser.
“When I arrived, there was fog, cold and at the time my friends at home were on the beach. It was really tough to adapt to that.
“I found players like Roberto Baggio and Toto Schillaci by my side and I just couldn’t treat them like peers. Giovanni Trapattoni gave me my first start against Bayern Munich. We lost 1-0 because of my terrible back-pass towards Stefano Tacconi. I still remember the headlines…
“I walked the next day and it felt like I’d be beaten up. All of a sudden, Trapattoni appears out of nowhere and it was as if he could read my thoughts.
“He said: ‘You’re not still thinking about yesterday’s mistake, are you? Oh come on! Think of the future, you’ll be here for many years, it’s all fine.’ If Trapattoni hadn’t been there, I don’t know if I would’ve stayed at Juventus.
“I remember when Marcello Lippi arrived from Napoli with great ambition and determination. He was very important, as he was able to transmit to us precisely what he wanted.
“We hit rock bottom with defeat to Foggia, so Lippi said if we have to lose, we’ll go down fighting. From then on we attacked, pressed high and took the game to the opposition.
“Lippi was excellent at motivating the squad and passing on his ideas. I think the most important thing for a Coach is to have a clear vision and transmit that clearly to his players. Lippi always had that, as well as a great ability to motivate us, even when we played every three days.
“That Juventus had four consecutive European Finals and if you think back, that was an exceptional achievement.”
Conte was given the captain’s armband at Juventus, so how did that feel?
“When you receive the armband, it’s a moment when you take on that responsibility. Not everyone wants responsibility. It is important that the captain must always put the team first, ahead of personal interests, even if he has to pay a heavy price for that.
“The first Scudetto was a very emotional moment. I also remember the Scudetto we won in Udine on the last day, after losing the year before with Carlo Ancelotti in the final day at Perugia. That was devastating, as for seven days I just didn’t sleep. Not a wink. We’d lost a Scudetto that we had already won.”