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Antonio Conte – The Player, The Manager, The Family Man, The Leader

Antonio Conte gave a long interview to Tuttosport this week-end, covering a variety of subjects. Contrary to their habit, the Turin-based newspaper decided to post the entire contents of it online. Some truly great insights into Conte the manager, the ex-player, the family man, the leader. Juventus have got themselves a great one folks!

And because we care here at JuventiKnows, we went ahead and translated it in its entirety into English. Enjoy!


 

AREZZO – “Arezzo was my CEPU-like education: in the sense I got five years’ worth of material condensed into one. All kinds of things happened to me: we started off without having a real team; in the first nine games my players missed five decisive penalties; the management sent me away, then called me back for the last 14 games of the season and we managed to make an incredible come-back. That’s where the idea of the 4-2-4 originates: we needed to get as many points as possible. Then came the disappointment of getting relegated, at the hands of Juventus no less, but I got over it. Many things happened since then.”

BERNABÉU – “The way our new stadium charges you up is insane, playing in it is fantastic. But besides ours, there are two other venues that I hold in my heart: Old Trafford, and especially the Bernabéu. That’s where I want to take Juventus again.”

CURVA – “When the Curva used to call out my name I always got excited. When I retired as a player, even more so. Let me tell you a story: last year with Siena, we had to play against Novara and were finishing up training at the Silvio Piola stadium. Suddenly a group of Juventus supporters, the Drughi Magenta, popped up and brought along flares, chants, and shouts of encouragement. At the end they even gave me a honorary plaque. When you give out so much on the field, fans do not forget you. As for me I can never forget the Juventus fans.”

DEL PIERO – “I played with Alessandro as a teammate, and now I have the honor of having him as a player. It will never be a problem for me, under any aspect, because he’s a guy that will always give me a huge helping hand. Be it when I call him to play from minute 1, the 70th or 80th, or every other possible situation. His qualities aren’t up for debate, and I think there’s still a lot he can give.”

ENERGY – “The new stadium must become a determining factor for us Juventini, fans and players alike. And the way it can achieve that is if the people, within the boundaries of correctness, can turn it into a bedlam. We have to stir up hell, especially during the difficult times. Because there will be beautiful times and moments of difficulty, and it is especially during the latter ones that we must make our team feel we are close to them, and put pressure on the opponent. If we do all that, our fans will contribute to a lot of points.”

FANTASIA – “Schemes, tactics, playing modules are all important and fundamental, because they the backbone on which the team rests, but I will never gag or suffocate the creativity of a player. Fantasia is essential; there is always a lot of room in my game for fantasia.”

WORK DAY – “I coach. And whenever I don’t coach I am thinking about what I could do in order to coach better. It was like that during my days as a player as well. For me working involves one’s complete involvement, I cannot interpret it any differently. I know that I penalize my family by doing so, the regret is great; but I always manage to dedicate some time to the girls in my life, and to reading as well. What do I read? Biographies of winners and books on psychology.”

PLAYER INVESTMENTS – “No, we did not get a Tevez, or a Nani, or a Walcott… but don’t underestimate our transfers. We had to plan our mercato based on tactical and financial needs but also thinking about the future, betting on talented young players who may still be useful in years to come. Elia, Estigarribia, Giaccherini… give them time, and you will see they will turn into important investments.”

LIPPI – “I was fortunate to play under practically all great managers of my generation. I am only missing Capello, but other than him my “collection” is complete. Lippi, Ancelotti, Zoff, Trapattoni, Sacchi… but also Mazzone and Fascetti, from whom I have learned a lot. There is something that I stole from each of them. With Lippi our relationship was long and intense: it’s while I was part of that Juventus that I learned what it means to be a winner. Even now, the most important thing I do as a manager is to transmit that knowledge to my own players.”

MARCHISIO – “People keep asking me who could be my heir at Juventus… It is very difficult to say because everyone has their own characteristics, and football changes. However if there was a player that comes close, it is definitely Marchisio. Skilled in penetration, great tactical versatility, very smart. We look alike, but I think that he is actually a better player than me and I wish him even more success than I had.”

HI-FI – “Juventus for me is more than a club. Loyalty to this shirt is total and absolute, it rises from our history together and the wonderful moments I have lived wearing these colours. It would be difficult now for me to try taking them off.”

OLYMPIAKOS – “My most exciting goal? Without a doubt the one I scored against Olympiakos in Greece, during the 1998-99 season. Not the prettiest maybe, but certainly a stirring one. We were losing 1-0 and were virtually out of the Champions League. I was playing with a broken lip, forced to hold a handkerchief in my mouth to dab the blood. With 15 minutes left I scored, and the goal allowed us to qualify for the next round; I remember celebrating with my handkerchief all soaked in blood.”

MEMORIES – “Villar Perosa is a fond memory, when l’Avvocato [Gianni Agnelli] would come to visit us in his helicopter… Stirring moments that take you back 20 years, give you energy. Delle Alpi is another one… it was the theater of many wins for us. Let’s hope the new stadium that arose in its place can absorb its positive energies.”

CROSSBAR – “So much cursing, so much foul language for hitting that crossbar in Manchester’s final vs. AC Milan. It flashed back to me many times… too many. I have an open tab with that net and that stadium, and sooner or later will come the time to pay up.”

THE DUGOUT – “At some point I told myself: if within five years I am not the manager of Juventus, I’ll stop. There was really no arrogance in this statement, because I have the habit of fixing objectives for myself and then do everything possible to attain them. Plus there was the infinite love I have for this team.”

FOUR-TWO-FOUR – “More than anything, the meaning of those numbers is journalistic. We can describe my tactic as a 4-4-2 in which the wingers’ distance is a little bit altered: they play a bit further up. Let’s say it’s a much more offensive 4-4-2. The idea for it was born with Arezzo’s necessity to win at all cost. That’s when we won 8 matches out of 12. The idea came to me because offensively, a 4 vs. 4 situation is in my opinion the best way to give the opposing defense a hard time. Balance is of course important and necessary: there are two phases of play and one mustn’t forget the defensive one, but when everyone on the team is willing to run and run well… then everything is possible.”

HUMILITY – “The humility of a provinciale, the mentality of a great team. Our players must never get this one wrong. No one must get carried away or think there is an easy game ahead, but at the same time no one must fear the opponent or forget they are playing for Juventus.”

VITTORIA – “It’s my daughter’s name, and I try to dedicate her the time that my work permits. Along with Isabella, my wife, they are a source of great serenity for me.”

FRESH – “We are starting fresh, back from scratch, with concepts that are completely new. The beautiful thing though is that all players have opened up and made themselves available. I try to understand them, and they try to understand me: they are getting to know me as a coach and as a man. But my biggest tool to convince them is out there, on the field: if you talk sh*t, getting people to follow you becomes difficult. They believe in this project and are progressively gaining confidence in themselves.”


For another great Conte interview, make sure to also check out our “A Heart-to-Heart with Antonio Conte (Sky Sport)” article.

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