Antonio Conte described the “greatest achievement of my career,” the first Scudetto at then-unfancied Juventus and the importance of Alessandro Del Piero.
Conte returned to Turin as a tactician following a seventh-place finish and went on to win the title unbeaten in his debut season.
“The first Scudetto with Juventus as a Coach was the greatest achievement of my career, the greatest joy. We won that year in an incredibly difficult situation, where we started out from seventh place and were not considered contenders at all,” the Chelsea manager told Sky Sport Italia programme Mister Condo’.
“We created a remarkable alchemy and there was this unconditional faith. If I had said: ‘Let’s all throw ourselves off a building’ – we would’ve done it. There was such belief and unity between us.
“I arrived at Juventus with the conviction we could reach the Champions League zone in the first season. President Andrea Agnelli believed that too.
“The year I arrived there were many players who had left, there was a renewal process and when you finish seventh for two years in a row, that is not a coincidence. The situation was one of seventh place.
“That Milan should’ve dominated the League with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta, Robinho – they had a squad at the top. Compared to them, we were inferior in all ways.
“I think that was to our advantage, as when you are clearly stronger, you have to win and the pressure is all on you. We won because we had more hunger, more determination, more everything.
“Don’t forget in that league Inter had won the Treble, Napoli had Edinson Cavani, but people only realised afterwards that our transfer campaign was smart. At the time Andrea Pirlo as a free agent, Stephan Lichtsteiner and this unknown Arturo Vidal didn’t seem very impressive!”
Del Piero was Conte’s teammate and then left Juventus during his tenure as a Coach.
“Alessandro was one of the best talents in the sport. I’ve been fortunate to have Del Piero and Gigi Buffon as both teammates and players in my team.
“They understand the difficulties, we’ve shared joy and pain, because at Juventus we won a lot, but lost a lot too. Ale was so important, as even if he didn’t always start, the moment he came on he was ready to change a game.
“There was a moment when we would either win the Scudetto or finish second. I had to play him then, as he had the sense of responsibility and the class to make the difference.
“I remember his final game against Atalanta and he said goodbye. The entire stadium came to a halt. I remember the referee stopped play for about three minutes, all the Atalanta players too stood up to applaud and salute a great champion, but also a great person.”