Antonio Conte plans to return to Italy ‘before long’

Chelsea manager says he misses homeland and will be back at some stage in near future

Antonio Conte reacts after the Premier League match between Stoke City and Chelsea at Bet365 Stadium. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Antonio Conte reacts after the Premier League match between Stoke City and Chelsea at Bet365 Stadium. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

 

Antonio Conte has admitted that he misses Italy and plans to return to his homeland in the near future, saying that though his experience with Chelsea has been overwhelmingly positive there is “not a doubt in my mind that I will be home before long”.

During an interview with Italian radio station RadioUno, Conte spoke at length about his feelings for Italy. “I miss it, that’s beyond doubt,” he said. “Italy is my homeland, so once I have had some good experiences, formative experiences, important and life-changing experiences, I’ll be back. I don’t know when but that’s the aim.”

The 48-year-old ruled out the possibility of working in China, but admitted some uncertainty over what might happen in the remainder of his career. “It’s always difficult to predict the future,” he said. “Us managers have the most precarious job of all. Today you’re working, tomorrow you’re out. I want to succeed, to finish one project and make the right decision about the next. This experience has given me so much, has improved me so much, but perhaps in the future I won’t be a manager. Perhaps I’ll work as a director of football. I don’t know.”

Having won the league in his first season at Chelsea, Conte says the club have made no specific demands about his second. “The Premier League is an extremely difficult competition,” he said. “Six teams are in contention for the title and this year the battle will be harder still – the two Manchester clubs, Tottenham, Liverpool, Arsenal, it really is a great battle. Chelsea haven’t given me any particular target, we simply try to do our best.”

Chelsea started their Champions League campaign with an emphatic home win against the Azerbaijani side Qarabag, but will have to finish above one of Roma or Atlético Madrid to progress. “If Chelsea gets through to the next round, I hope we don’t meet any Italian teams,” Conte said. “We weren’t lucky in the draw, we’ve got one of the hardest groups. Atlético have done well in all the most important competitions over the last few years, reached various finals and semi-finals and have a strong side. I know Roma very well, they compete for the highest honours in Italy and will do the same in other competitions. We returned to the Champions League with great enthusiasm and we want to do our best, but we have to be careful. We just have to find a way to get through the group, and then prepare for the next draw.”

Conte recalled his first few games at Chelsea, mentioning the giant Italian flag with which the fans welcomed him at his first game and saying that “the feeling was wonderful from the beginning”.

“It was great also because the previous year things hadn’t gone well for Chelsea, who ended up 10th in the table,” he said. “To win the league at the first attempt is always difficult, and in my case it was my first experience abroad. The experience has enriched me and improved me in many different ways. In Italy you’re in your comfort zone, when it comes to language, lifestyle, your habits and preparations, and moving abroad is not easy. It’s not easy to carry over your own ideas about football, your own methods. You have to get everything across in a different language, and that wastes a lot of energy. But I’ve experienced excellent stadiums, incredible atmospheres, fans who come to live in the moment, to have a party. Even more than results, it matters that the players give everything for their shirt, and if they do that whether they’re relegated or not, the fans are ready to applaud.”

(Guardian service)

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