Antonio Conte

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This article is about the former football player and manager. For the fencer, see Antonio Conte (fencer).
Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte - Globe Soccer Awards 2013.jpg
Conte receiving the Best Coach of the Year award in 2013
Personal information
Full name Antonio Conte
Date of birth (1969-07-31) 31 July 1969 (age 47)
Place of birth Lecce, Italy
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)[1]
Playing position Central midfielder
Club information
Current team
Chelsea (manager)
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1985–1991 Lecce 71 (1)
1991–2004 Juventus 296 (29)
Total 367 (30)
National team
1994–2000 Italy 20 (2)
Teams managed
2006 Arezzo
2007 Arezzo
2007–2009 Bari
2009–2010 Atalanta
2010–2011 Siena
2011–2014 Juventus
2014–2016 Italy
2016– Chelsea

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.


Antonio Conte (Italian pronunciation: [anˈtɔːnjo ˈkonte]; born 31 July 1969) is an Italian professional football manager and former player. He is currently manager of English club Chelsea.

Playing as a midfielder, Conte began his career at local club U.S. Lecce and later became one of the most decorated and influential players in the history of Juventus. He stood out throughout his career due to his tenacity, work-rate, and leadership, captaining the team, and winning the UEFA Champions League, as well as 5 Serie A titles, among other honours.[2] He also played for the Italian national team and was a participant at the 1994 FIFA World Cup and the 2000 UEFA European Championship, where, on both occasions, the Italians finished runners-up.

His managerial career started in 2006, leading Bari to the 2008–09 Serie B title, and Siena to promotion from the same division two years later. He then took over at Juventus in 2011, where he implemented a 3–5–2 formation and won three consecutive Serie A titles, before taking charge of the Italian national team in 2014 until the UEFA Euro 2016 campaign.

Club career[edit]

Conte began his career with the youth team of his hometown club U.S. Lecce and made his Serie A debut with the first team on 6 April 1986, aged 16, vs. Pisa (1-1). Under the manager Carlo Mazzone, he became a fundamental player for the squad. In 1987 he fractured his tibia, running the risk of a career-ending injury. In 1988-1989 season he was back in the pitch and scored his first Serie A goal vs. Napoli on 11 November 1989 in a match won by Napoli (3-2). He amassed a total of 99 appearances and one goal for Lecce.

He was signed by Juventus manager Giovanni Trapattoni in 1991 (debuting 17 November 1991 vs. Torino),[3] and was later made captain of the team before the promotion of Alessandro Del Piero to the role. During the 1998–1999 season, when Del Piero suffered a severe knee injury, Conte returned to the captaincy, a position which he maintained until the 2001–02 season. Conte won 5 Serie A titles with Juventus, the 1994–95 Coppa Italia, the 1992–93 UEFA Cup, and the 1995–96 UEFA Champions League. Along with his team he finished as runner-up on three other occasions as what some dubbed the "curse of finals" saw Juventus lose the Champions League finals of 1997, 1998 and 2003.[4]

International career[edit]

Conte also played for the Italian national team, and was a member of the squad for both the 1994 FIFA World Cup and the 2000 UEFA European Championship, achieving runners-up medals in both tournaments.[5]

Style of play[edit]

Conte was regarded as a quick, combative, energetic, and tactically versatile footballer throughout his career who could play anywhere in midfield but was usually deployed as a central or defensive midfielder.[6] A hard-working and intelligent player, with an innate ability to read the game, Conte was mainly known for his accurate tackling, stamina, and vision which, along with his solid technique, endowed him with the ability to start attacking moves by transitioning from defence into attack after retrieving possession.[4][7] Due to his ability to get forward, he also had a penchant for scoring spectacular goals from volleys and strikes from outside the area. He was also considered to be good in the air.[8][9]

Coaching career[edit]

Arezzo[edit]

Conte in 2005.

After retiring from playing, Conte worked as an assistant manager for Siena alongside Luigi De Canio in the 2005–06 season. In July 2006 he was appointed coach of Serie B side Arezzo however, after a series of disappointing results, he was sacked on 31 October 2006.

On 13 March 2007 he was reinstated as Arezzo head coach as his predecessor failed to gain any significant improvement with the club mired in a relegation struggle. He subsequently led the team to five consecutive wins, securing 19 points from seven matches, which allowed the Tuscan side to close the points gap between them and safety. In spite of this turnaround in form Arezzo were relegated to Serie C1 on the final day of the league season, finishing one point behind Spezia.

Bari[edit]

On 27 December 2007 Conte was appointed by Bari to replace Giuseppe Materazzi for the second half of their Serie B 2007–08 campaign.[10] He oversaw a considerable upturn in form, leading the team out of the relegation battle and placing them comfortably mid-table. The following season, 2008–09, Bari were crowned Serie B champions, being promoted to Serie A for the 2009–10 season, Conte's first major honour as a manager.

In June 2009, after weeks of rumours linking Conte to the vacant managerial role at Juventus, he agreed in principle for a contract extension to keep him at Bari for the new season. However, on 23 June, Bari announced they had rescinded the contract with Antonio Conte by mutual consent.[11]

After Claudio Ranieri was sacked by Juventus, Conte was again named as a potential replacement.[12] Shortly prior to Ranieri's sacking Conte had made public his ambition to be Juventus coach at some stage and was confident he was ready for the demands of the role.[13] Again the "bianconeri" declined to hire their former midfielder and appointed Ciro Ferrara instead.

Atalanta[edit]

Conte managing Atalanta in a Serie A match

On 21 September 2009 Conte replaced Angelo Gregucci as manager of Atalanta.[14] Despite a good start at the helm of the orobici, the team found themselves struggling by November leading to protests from local supporters and friction between Conte and the club's ultra supporters.

On 6 January 2010, Conte was repeatedly confronted by Atalanta fans during a home game against Napoli which ended in a 0–2 defeat for the nerazzurri - the game ended with Conte receiving police protection to avoid an altercation with the Atalanta ultras.[15] The next day, Conte tended his resignation to the club, leaving them in 19th place.[16]

Siena[edit]

On 9 May 2010 he was announced as new head coach of Siena, with the aim of leading the Tuscan side back to the top flight after relegation to the 2010–11 Serie B.[17] Conte successfully secured promotion for Siena who would be competing in the 2011–12 Serie A season.

Juventus[edit]

Conte in 2012

On 22 May 2011 Juventus sporting director, Giuseppe Marotta, announced that Juventus had appointed Conte as their new head coach replacing Luigi Delneri. Conte arrived amid high expectations that he, a former fan favourite as a midfielder for the club, would lead them back to the summit of the Italian and European game.[18][19]

His first ten months as manager saw the club reach a number of landmarks such as, following a 5–0 win over rivals Fiorentina, equalling Fabio Capello's run of 28 unbeaten games between November 2005 and May 2006. On 20 March 2012, he became the first coach to lead Juventus to a Coppa Italia final since Marcello Lippi in the 2004 Coppa Italia Final. On 25 March, following a 2–0 victory at the Juventus Stadium, he became the first coach to complete the league double in the Derby d'Italia against rivals Internazionale since Fabio Capello in 2005–06. In November 2012, Conte was awarded the Trofeo Maestrelli - an award honouring the three best Italian coaches working in the professional league, the country's youth coaching system and outside Italy respectively.[20] Despite drawing a large number of games during the season on 6 May 2012 Conte led the Bianconeri to their 28th league title with one game remaining by beating Cagliari 2–0.[21] After beating Atalanta 3–1, Juventus finished the league unbeaten, the first team to do so since Serie A expanded to 20 teams and 38 rounds. Conte's innovative 3–5–2 formation, which featured wing-backs and two box-to-box midfielders in a three-man midfield, gave more creative freedom to the newly acquired deep-lying playmaker Andrea Pirlo, who was key to the team's success that season.[22][23][24] The team's strong and highly organised three-man back-line, which was predominantly composed of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, and Andrea Barzagli, was regarded to have played a large part in the title triumph, and only conceded 20 goals, finishing the League with the best defence in Italy.[23] Juventus lost the 2012 Coppa Italia final to Napoli 2–0, however - their only defeat in domestic competitions that season.[25]

Conte's Juventus won the 2012–13 Serie A title as they accumulated 87 points, three more than the previous season, nine more than second placed Napoli and 15 more than third placed Milan. Despite their dominance, Juventus' top goalscorers in the league were midfielder Vidal and forward Mirko Vučinić, both with just ten goals, making them joint 23rd in the goal-scoring chart. In his first UEFA Champions League campaign, Juventus were knocked out by the eventual winners Bayern Munich in the quarter finals, losing 4–0 on aggregate. After winning a second consecutive Italian Supercup in 2013, Juventus won their third consecutive Serie A title under Conte during the 2013–14 season, winning the league with a Serie A record of 102 points; this was also the club's 30th league title.[26][27] Juventus continued to disappoint in Europe, however, and were eliminated from the group stage of the UEFA Champions League that season, although they subsequently managed to reach the semi-finals of the Europa League. On 15 July 2014, Conte resigned as manager.[28] During his three seasons as Juventus manager, he won the Panchina d'Oro for each one, for best Serie A coach of the season.[29][30][31]

Italy national team[edit]

On 14 August 2014, following Cesare Prandelli's resignation, the Italian Football Federation announced to have agreed a two-year deal with Conte as new head coach of the national team until Euro 2016.[32] With the national side, Conte continued to field formations which he had employed during his successful spell with Juventus, varying between the 3–5–2, 4–3–3, 4–2–4 and 3–3–4, the choice that ultimately replaced Prandelli's 4–3–1–2 midfield diamond formation.[33][34][35] His first match as Italy manager was a 2–0 win over Netherlands, during which Ciro Immobile and Daniele De Rossi scored the goals for Gli Azzurri. Conte won his first competitive match on 9 September 2014, defeating Norway 2–0 in their opening 2016 European Qualifying match, in Oslo, with goals by Simone Zaza and Leonardo Bonucci. This was the first time Italy had managed to defeat the Norwegians in Norway since 1937.[36] After ten games as Italy manager, Conte suffered his first defeat on 16 June 2015, in a 1–0 international friendly loss against Portugal.[37] He sealed Euro 2016 qualification for Italy on 10 October 2015, as Italy defeated Azerbaijan 3–1 in Baku. The result meant that Italy had managed to go 50 games unbeaten in European qualifiers.[38]

On 15 March 2016 it was confirmed by the Italian Football Federation that Conte would step down as manager after Euro 2016.[39] Although many fans and members of the media were initially critical of Conte's tactics and the level of the Italian squad chosen for the competition,[40] Italy opened the tournament with a promising 2–0 victory over the number 1 ranked European team Belgium on 13 June;[41] following the win, Conte drew praise from the media for the team's unity, defensive strength, and for his tactical approach to the match, which impeded Belgium from creating many goalscoring opportunities.[42][43] Conte led Italy out of the group to the Round of 16 with one game to spare on 17 June after a 1–0 victory against Sweden; Italy had not won the second group game in a major international tournament since Euro 2000, in which Conte had coincidentally appeared as a player.[44] He also led Italy to the top of the group, the first time in a major tournament since the 2006 World Cup.[45] After the 2–0 round of 16 win over Spain, Conte's Italy then faced off against rivals Germany in the quarter final which ended 1–1 after extra time and 6–5 in favour of Germany after the resulting penalty shoot-out, ending his time has Italy manager.[46] Speaking after the game Conte said that "the decision to leave the national team after two years was taken early", and that the reason for leaving was because he "wanted to return to the cut and thrust of club football."[47] In an interview, Bonucci mentioned that the team gave Conte the nickname "The Godfather" due to the way he talked and the way he made them want to listen.[48]

Chelsea[edit]

On 4 April 2016, it was confirmed that Conte had signed a three-year contract and would officially become the new first team manager of English Premier League side Chelsea from the 2016–17 season.[49][50] His first signing as Chelsea manager, was striker Michy Batshuayi[51] on 3rd July and was followed by N'Golo Kanté[52] two week later. Conte started off his season with a 2–1 win over West Ham United.[53]

Style of management[edit]

“The word 'coach' has to encompass everything. You can't only be good at tactics, just as you can't only be good at motivation, just as you can't only be good from a psychological point of view, just as you can't only be good in how you manage the club and the media. You have got to be good at everything. You have got to try and excel at everything. To do this you have got to study and since I became a coach, for me, it has been continuous study.”

 — Conte on his coaching philosophy.[54]

As a manager, Conte is known for using the 3–5–2 formation[55][56] (or in certain cases, its more defensive variant, 5–3–2), fielding two wingbacks in lieu of wingers, with two out-and-out strikers backed by an attacking box-to-box midfielder in a three-man midfield, in front of a three-man defensive line. During his time as head coach of Juventus, he won three consecutive Serie A titles using the 3–5–2 formation,[33] which also soon began to be employed by several other Serie A clubs.[57] In his time at Bari he was noted for his unorthodox 4–2–4 formation, a modification of the classic 4–4–2, in which the outside midfielders act as attacking wingers.[58] Commentators have also observed that, although Conte's teams are capable of playing a short passing possession game, in which the ball is played out from the back on the ground, they are mainly known for their direct style of attacking play, as well as their ability to utilise long balls and score from counter-attacks with few touches. Defensive solidity has been highlighted as a hallmark as well as the use of high and aggressive pressing in order to put pressure on opponents and win back the ball quickly. Conte's teams have also been described as possessing notable virtues such as pace, athleticism, work-rate, and tactical intelligence.[59][60][61][62][63][64]


Conte's work in restoring Juventus to the top of Italian football won critical acclaim and earned him comparisons with José Mourinho and Arrigo Sacchi,[65][66] primarily due to his obsession with tactics, his winning mentality and ability to foster great team spirit among his players. He also demonstrated a notable tactical versatility and meticulousness as a coach, adopting several different formations in an attempt to find the most suitable system to match his players' skills. The formations he adopted included 4–2–4, 4–1–4–1, 3–3–4, and 4–3–3, before he finally settled on his now trademark 3–5–2 or 5–3–2 formation while also using a 3–5–1–1 formation on occasion, as a variation upon this system.[33][58][67][68] The resulting system was key to the club's success as the three-man midfield line-up, flanked by wingbacks, allowed veteran star Pirlo to function creatively as a deep-lying playmaker, with the more dynamic Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio either supporting him defensively or contributing offensively by making attacking runs into the area.[22] The team's organised back-line formed by Chiellini, Bonucci, and Barzagli proved to be a strong defensive line-up, as Juventus finished the 2011–12 Serie A season with the best defence in the league;[23] the three-man defence also allowed the central defender, Bonucci, to operate in a free role, and advance into midfield as a ball-playing centre-back, providing an additional creative outlet whenever Pirlo was heavily marked.[69]

Pirlo also remarked approvingly of Conte's man-management and motivational skills. In his autobiography he recalled how Conte's introductory speech to the Juventus squad made a significant impact: "He needed only one speech, with many simple words, to conquer both me and Juventus. He had fire running through his veins and he moved like a viper. 'This squad, dear boys, is coming off two consecutive seventh-place finishes. It's crazy. It's shocking. I am not here for this, so it's time to stop being so crap.'... When Conte speaks, his words assault you. They crash through the doors of your mind. I've lost count of the number of times I've said: 'Hell, Conte said something really spot-on again today.'"[70]

In addition to his comparisons to José Mourinho, some commentators have also remarked on his managerial similarities to Alex Ferguson,[71] using an anecdote from his final season as Juventus manager to illustrate his formidable temper. Prior to the team talk ahead of the final game of the 2013–14 season, Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon arrived with the club's chief executive who Buffon claimed wanted to speak to the players over how much they were due in win bonuses having won the title. "The suggestion sent Conte into a fury. He chased every player out of the room as he tore into Buffon. 'I don’t want to hear another word,' Conte is said to have screamed. 'From you, of all people, I would never have expected such a thing. Bonuses … You’re a disappointment, a defeat from the moment you open your mouth. Just like all the rest of these half-wits.'"[71] Juventus won the game 3–0 and set a new record for the most points and wins in a single Serie A season.[72]

Controversy[edit]

Prior to Euro 2012, Conte was accused of failure to report attempted match-fixing during his time as manager of Siena by ex-Siena player Filippo Carobbio, connected with the betting scandal of 2011–12.[70] Carobbio, after himself being charged with extensive involvement in the scandal, claimed that during the technical meeting prior to a match between Siena and Novara Siena owner Massimo Mezzaroma indirectly sent a message to the players asking them to ensure that the match finished in a draw in order to help Mezzaroma turn a large profit on a bet he had made. The match finished 2–2 and Carobbio testified that Conte was present when the message was relayed to the players in advance of the game.[70] Carrobio also asserted that the result of the final game of the season, in which Siena lost 1-0 to AlbinoLeffe, was prearranged after Siena's assistant manager asked that he and another player "contact someone at AlbinoLeffe to reach an agreement over the return match."[70] Further accusations were also leveled at Conte over the result of Siena's 5–0 victory over Mezzaroma that season, specifically that he knew they had been asked to lose the game and did not report it.[73]

Conte's lawyer Antonio De Rencis reported that his client strenuously denied the accusations[74] and maintained that he had no knowledge of any attempts to fix the matches in which he was involved. To date none of the 23 other Siena players have supported Carobbio's accusations.[75] Conte took the advice of his lawyers and attempted to strike a plea bargain that would have seen him served with a three month ban and fine of €200,000, under Article 23 of Italian law without admission of guilt. On 1 August 2012, this plea bargain was rejected.[76] On 10 August FIGC suspended him from football for the following ten months, for failing to report match-fixing in NovaraSiena and AlbinoLeffeSiena.[77] Conte again maintained his innocence and appealed the verdict.[78]

On 22 August 2012, the Federal Court of Justice dropped the accusation about Novara-Siena. Federal Court member Pietro Sandulli commented that "...it seemed illogical that such a senior and experienced coach would say in the locker room 'we're drawing this one' in front of 25 players".[79] However, the court confirmed the ten month ban for AlbinoLeffe game would be upheld as there was no way he could not have known of the actions of his assistant manager Cristian Stellini[70] with the presiding judge adding that Conte was "lucky" not to have been handed a longer sentence.[80][81] On 23 August 2012, Juventus announced an appeal to Italy's sports arbitration panel against this new ban.[82] Following this appeal, Conte's touchline ban was reduced to four months.[83]

Juventus' management and players dedicated their Supercoppa Italiana win to Conte.[84] In May 2016, the preliminary hearing judge of the court of Cremona acquitted Conte of all charges in regard to his alleged involvement in the match-fixing scandal from the 2010–11 season, during his time with Siena in Serie B.[85]

Despite Conte's success at Juventus, there were indications that his departure from the club in May 2014 was not as amicable as had been portrayed, with observers pointing to a comment he made in the immediate aftermath of the club's 2014 title success. When asked what plans were in place for the following season Conte responded, "Well, you cannot go to eat at a €100 restaurant with just €10 euro in your pocket, can you?", which was interpreted as a veiled criticism of the lack of funds made available for transfers by the Juventus executive. In addition to this remark, Conte had chosen to resign on the second day of pre-season training – something that took fans by surprise.[86]

There was much controversy surrounding Italy's UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying match on 28 March 2015 against Bulgaria, as Conte called up Brazilian-born Éder and Argentine-born Franco Vázquez. Both players hold an Italian citizenship as they have relatives that are Italian, allowing them to be eligible to play for Italy. Speaking at a Serie A meeting on 23 March 2015, Roberto Mancini said, "The Italian national team should be Italian. An Italian player deserves to play for the national team while someone who wasn't born in Italy, even if they have relatives, I don't think they deserve to." Italian manager, Conte's response to the use of foreign-born players was, "If Mauro Camoranesi [who was born in Argentina] was allowed to help Italy win the 2006 World Cup, then why can't Éder and Franco Vázquez lead the Azzurri to glory in next year's European Championship?"[87][88]

In late May 2016, Conte was criticised in the North-American media for his omission of Pirlo and Sebastian Giovinco from Italy's 30-player shortlist for Euro 2016 squad, and for his comments regarding the quality of their league, the MLS;[89] Conte had stated in a press conference: "When you make a certain choice and go to play in certain leagues, you do so taking it into account that they could pay the consequences from a footballing viewpoint".[90]

Personal life[edit]

Conte and his wife Elisabetta have a daughter Vittoria.[91] The couple had been together for fifteen years before marrying in June 2013.[92] Conte has expressed his gratitude to his family for their support during the Scommessopoli match-fixing scandal investigations: "I have a great woman by my side, one who always tries to understand me. As for my daughter, she is the other woman in my life. She is beginning to understand that her dad gets nervous when he does not win [a match]".[93]

In addition to his native Italian, Conte can also speak English.[94] Conte is a practicing Roman Catholic.[95]

Career statistics[edit]

International[edit]

Italy national team
Year Apps Goals
1994 3 0
1995 2 0
1996 3 0
1997
1998
1999 7 1
2000 5 1
Total 20 2

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Italy's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 27 March 1999 Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark  Denmark 2–1 2–1 UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying
2. 11 June 2000 GelreDome, Arnhem, Netherlands  Turkey 1–0 2–1 UEFA Euro 2000

Manager[edit]

As of match played 23 August 2016.
Team Nat From To Record
G W D L Win %
Arezzo Italy July 2006 31 October 2006 12 3 5 4 25.00
Arezzo Italy 13 March 2007 June 2007 14 6 4 4 42.86
Bari Italy 27 December 2007 23 June 2009 67 32 20 15 47.76
Atalanta Italy 21 September 2009 7 January 2010 14 3 4 7 21.43
Siena Italy 1 July 2010 21 May 2011 44 22 14 8 50.00
Juventus Italy 22 May 2011 15 July 2014 151 102 34 15 67.55
Italy Italy 14 August 2014 2 July 2016 25 14 7 4 56.00
Chelsea England 3 July 2016 Present 3 3 0 0 100.000
Total 330 185 88 57 56.06

Honours[edit]

Player[edit]

Conte's jersey from the 1994 FIFA World Cup, in which Italy reached the final.

Club[edit]

Juventus[96]

International[edit]

Italy[96]

Manager[edit]

Bari[6]
Siena[6]
Juventus[6]

Individual[edit]

Orders[edit]

Cavaliere OMRI BAR.svg
5th Class / Knight: Cavaliere Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana: 2000[102]

References[edit]

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