Former Juventus boss Antonio Conte has been appointed Chelsea first-team head coach on a three-year deal – here are five things you might not know about the Italian.
BACK TO SCHOOL
“Cheney Court is a superb Jacobean manor house set in rolling countryside just eight kilometres from Bath and on the edge of the M4 corridor.” Thus reads the brochure advertising the language school where Conte apparently took his first tentative steps towards learning English earlier this year.
The Wiltshire hamlet of Ditteridge reportedly hosted the southern Italian as he began grappling with British football terminology and press conference niceties back in January.
Cheney Court also offers ‘Cultural Competence Training’ which promises to help students “minimise misunderstandings” and “avoid conflict and reduce risks”. Useful skills for a Premier League boss.
THERE WILL BE BLOOD
Conte’s fearsome credentials as a motivational speaker have been captured on camera.
Ahead of a Serie A trip to Palermo in April 2012 the Lecce-born tactician was filmed riling up his title-chasing team, who were at that time unbeaten in 31 league matches, during a training session.
“We’re being praised and that gives me the creeps, because I fear it will make some of you relax,” he said, fixing his intense gaze on each one of his players in turn. “You want to win the title? You’ll have to spit blood right to the very end of the final match of the season.”
Juve would win in Sicily and they soon claimed the championship, avoiding defeat until November.
While understandably discreet about his private life, Conte has spoken publicly of his love for his wife Elisabetta Muscarello and their daughter Vittoria – the motivating forces behind his career.
Conte met ‘Betta’ when he was only 21 years old but the pair did not marry until June 2013. “I knew her family for a long time, because they lived near mine,” he told Vanity Fair. “Then, when I finished playing, I began to see her around again and we started going out. I was lucky she wasn’t taken!”
In Conte’s eyes, the many glories of his life in football pale in significance when compared to the victory – ‘vittoria’ in Italian – of bringing a child into the world. He said: “Having a daughter really teaches you what love is. Before they come into your life you don’t know what it is.”
HIT THE KING’S ROAD, GIAC
Conte’s rumoured number-one transfer target is already attached to a Premier League club.
No, he’s not chasing Sergio Aguero, Mesut Ozil or Riyad Mahrez – but instead an Italian winger who has failed to find his feet at Sunderland.
Emanuele Giaccherini, who won two Serie A titles under Conte, is excelling while on loan with Bologna and his former manager is said to be keen to take him to Stamford Bridge in a cut-price deal.
HAIR TODAY, GONE YESTERDAY
One rumour has dogged Conte – or should I say ‘catted’ him? – throughout his managerial career.
Any video of Conte celebrating a goal in Juventus colours during the 1990s will expose his lank, thinning hair, usually dripping with sweat beneath a headband.
But the balding process appeared to reverse when he took his coaching badges. His voluminous mop is the envy of most Serie A bosses, even if most do not believe it is all growing out of his scalp.
One theory is that a brown cat resides on his head – and TV comic Frank Matano famously attempted to doorstep the follicular feline, with Conte playfully stroking his interviewer’s hair in response.