Conte looking forward to ‘fantastic’ festive atmosphere

Date published: Saturday 24th December 2016 10:10

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte hopes to enjoy his first experience of festive football – after avoiding going shopping for Christmas presents.

The Blues enter the Christmas and New Year programme with a six-point lead and on an 11-match Premier League winning streak.

Conte’s side play at home to Bournemouth on Boxing Day and Stoke on New Year’s Eve and at Tottenham on January 4.

And the former Juventus midfielder and boss and Italy head coach is looking forward to a time many managers, both native and foreign, have lamented.

“This is the first experience for me and my family, to work, to play football (at this time of year),” Conte said.

“It can be, and I hope it will be, a fantastic experience.”

Asked whether English football should have a winter break, Conte added: “It’s very difficult for me to say if it’s positive or negative to play during the Christmas period.

“But for me, it’s my first experience and I’m very happy to have this experience.

“I lived always this experience when I stayed in Italy. I have this situation in England, and I heard a lot of coaches are disappointed, saying you should stop and have a winter break.

“Above all with the national team. (Former England boss Fabio) Capello always said the lack of a winter break penalised the national team.

“The atmosphere we find in this period is very difficult to find in another period. It’s fantastic.”

Conte will be joined for Christmas by his wife and daughter for a family get-together, but he will carry on working, rather than go on holiday to Lecce, Dubai or stay at home in Turin, and leave gift shopping to his wife.

“It’s very strange for us,” he added.

“In this period, we’re used to going on holiday for a week.

“But it’s important for me, at Christmas, to stay with my family.

“You have to celebrate Christmas with the family. It’s not important where you stay, but it’s important to stay together with your family.

“I don’t like to buy gifts. I don’t like this. My wife does this. She is a fantastic person.

“I don’t like going to the shops. My wife spends the right money, not a lot of money.”

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