Antonio Conte fought back tears as he described the Euro 2016 “family” and reveals the moment he “regretted” signing for Chelsea.
The tactician left Juventus two days into pre-season training in 2014 and several weeks later accepted the Italy bench.
“My parents pushed me to accept the Italy job, as to be the CT of the Nazionale is such an honour. Above all after three years of such intense passion with Juventus, the Nazionale was also a form of respect towards Juventus,” Conte told Sky Sport Italia show Mister Condo’.
“The year and a half there was wonderful, but what we created in those 45 days together was extraordinary, unique. We created a family.
“The day we went out to Germany in the quarter-final, I think there were tears above all because the next day we wouldn’t be together any more. That really hits me hard,” said Conte while fighting back tears.
“It was such joy to live those emotions with everyone, including the kit staff and the chefs. I think if we had won that penalty shoot-out, we’d have had a great chance of winning the trophy.”
Conte had already signed for Chelsea before Euro 2016 began. Once the tournament started, was there a moment when he regretted committing his future elsewhere so soon?
“Yes. Yes there was. If I hadn’t already signed for Chelsea… I don’t think I could’ve abandoned the lads.
“I had only three days off before starting work at Chelsea, as there was a new challenge and I threw myself into it heart and soul.
“It was a completely different experience with a foreign club, a big club with totally different players, totally different habits. It was a substantial change in all ways.
“Roman Abramovich is very demanding, but also very passionate about football. He wants to know everything about the sport, he often comes to training sessions, because he wants to understand it.
“There is a remarkable structure here and the figure of the manager is totally encompassing. In Italy you are the Coach, you work with various directors of sport. Here the manager is considered a central role who has to make many decisions in many different areas.
“When I arrived at Juventus, I knew the environment. I knew where to look under the rug and find the hidden dirt. Chelsea is totally new to me, so that makes it more difficult.
“There are very talented players here and a team that to a degree is already there. Talent isn’t enough, though, and must be coached to become a team.
“We know that Coaches depend on results, but also that the results don’t come without hard work. It’s a challenge. It’s a different language, I am also on my own, as my wife and daughter are still in Italy.
“I still have the desire to express my ideas. I know it’ll be more difficult here, as in Italy we are more accustomed to tactical work, video sessions and lectures on systems, but we’re ready to work on that.”
Conte has said before that ‘defeat is like death.’ Is that his secret?
“I don’t experience failure well, so I try to avoid it in any way possible. I try to give my players as much information as possible to avoid defeat.
“If it does happen, I don’t sleep. I want to understand what happened, how it can be avoided. I’d like to be more superficial, more complacent, but I know the day that happens, I will have lost everything I am.”