For Antonio ConteIt was a painful period. The Tottenham manager has been affected by the deaths of three close friends – Gian Piero Ventroni, Sinisa Mihajlovic and Gianluca Vialli – and they have led him to “an important reflection on my future”.
What Conti explained when he first opened then Viali It was the dying Friday before last that reminded him of the most important thing in life. It’s family and friends. He tried to come to terms with the bereavement first Vintron In early October, then Mihailović In mid-December before Vialli – he really felt the distance between his wife Elisabetta and their 15-year-old daughter Vittoria who continued to live in Italy.
“For sure, this season is a difficult season from a personal point of view,” said Conte. “Losing three people I knew well in such a short time was no small matter. When this situation happens, it brings you important reflections.
“Often we think and give too much importance to our work and forget about family. We forget that we need more time for us. This season makes me think important about my future.
“When you work and work is at the top of your mind and in your head, we may forget to be with family and friends. This is our passion and we lose a lot of things for passion. But when this situation happens, you start to think that maybe it is a good idea to give more time to your family and friends.” And also to yourself. Work is not everything in life.
Conte thought long and hard before signing a season-and-a-half contract to succeed Nuno Espirito Santo at Tottenham in November 2021 because he and Elisabetta had not cut Vitoria’s roots at an important stage in her studies. This is still the case. Conte lives in a London hotel and returns to Italy whenever he can. Elisabetta and Vittoria also visit at every available opportunity and yet the situation is still far from ideal.
“It is certainly not good for my family to be in Italy… not good,” said Conte. “But when you have a son or a daughter and children in school, you have to respect them because if you have to bring your kids every year or two seasons to completely change their environment… I don’t want to affect my family’s life.”
“Sometimes it is important to make decisions to sacrifice and survive. I have a family who try to support me and come here every moment they can. But this kind of situation becomes more difficult when situations like this happen with Gianluca, Gian Piero and Sinisa.”
Following Vialli’s death, Tottenham’s assistant manager, Christian Stellini, offered insight into Conte’s mentality. Stillini, who had known Conte for years, described him as a “tough man”, “at this moment he is more closed off to show his feelings”. Stellini said Conte could talk all day about football and work, but it was a different story when it came to personal emotions. “In difficult moments, maybe you don’t show up…or the silence is more than words,” added Stillini. “We are in that moment.”
How do you grieve as a coach in the Premier League? In most jobs, a compassionate vacation period may be an option. For Conte, the best he could do was step down for two press conferences. Ventroni, a fitness coach at Tottenham, and Mihajlovic, a legend of Yugoslavia and Lazio, both had leukemia. They were 61 and 53 respectively while Vialli, then 58 and a teammate of Conte’s team at Juventus, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Conte is 53 years old and it must have been considered his death.
Conte occupies a brutally tough professional space in which he knows he must deliver performances and results no matter what happens in the background. It’s draining, and even more so when things don’t go so well on the pitch – as has been the case widely with Tottenham since 2-0 defeat at Manchester United On October 19th. They go to Manchester City on Thursday night having won just three of their last nine Premier League games.
Conte has come under question about his commitment to Tottenham as he refuses to say whether he wants to stay with them beyond the end of the season. Meanwhile, Mauricio Pochettino and Thomas Tuchel – both out of work – are being touted as possible successors. Fun fact: Tuchel was a fan of Tottenham as a child.
Conte must operate within the parameters of the club’s business model, which he has repeatedly said works well for him. However, from the outside looking in, it’s hard to align that with Conti’s turbocharged obsession with the Grand Prix.
What Conte will do and always do is fight every day. “About commitment and what I give to the club where I work… no club has been upset about this,” he said. “Usually when I leave the club, they regret it [leaving] So much because they know how I work. It is normal that when I finish the day I feel tired because I work so much. That’s why the club wants me to stay for a long time.”