ANTONIO CONTE has always taken pride in living to work.
But his traumatic last few months have made him realise that there is more to life than his job.
Instagram @antonioconteGianluca Vialli pictured with Antonio Conte[/caption]
GettyAntonio Conte and Sinisa Mihajlovic pictured in 2021[/caption]
Antonio Conte with Gian Piero Ventrone in 2022Getty
The Tottenham manager has suffered three tragedies to close friends.
Gian Piero Ventrone, Spurs’ beloved fitness coach, passed away in October from leukaemia at the age of 61.
Serie A legend and great friend Sinisa Mihajlovic succumbed to the same dreadful disease last month, aged just 53.
Conte was then mourning the loss of Gianluca Vialli, his team-mate for Juventus and Italy, along with the rest of the footballing world when the Chelsea hero died of pancreatic cancer a fortnight ago.
The Spurs boss, 53, said: “This season is a difficult season from a personal aspect.
“To lose in such a short time three people that I knew very well, Gian Piero Ventrone, then Sinisa and now Gianluca, it was not simple.
“For sure, when this situation happens it brings you to have important reflections.
“Because many times we give a lot of importance to our work and we forget the family, we forget that we need to have more time for us.
“This season is making me have an important reflection on my future.”
With his 15-year-old daughter at a key age regarding her education, Conte and his wife have decided it is better for them to continue to live in Italy while he is over in England.
It makes sense given the “here today, gone tomorrow” nature of football management — but it means he has spent a lot of time alone during these difficult few months.
While his assistant Cristian Stellini revealed earlier this month that Conte is not one to talk about his feelings with his staff, that he is a “strong man”, so the Spurs boss will have been carrying all that pain alone.
And it does seem to have given him a new perspective on what is important.
Conte explained: “When work is at the top of your mind, maybe we forget to stay with the family, we forget to spend time with friends.
“But this is our passion and for the passion we lost a lot of things.
“When this situation happens, you start to think maybe sometimes it is also good to give more time to your family and friends and yourself.
“The work is not everything in life.”
Conte’s difficult period has not been helped by his team struggling. Spurs are through to the last 16 of the Champions League and still in the hunt for the Premier League top four.
But results have been poor of late, with three defeats in their last six league games.
Some fans are starting to get frustrated, while others are unconvinced Conte’s heart is really in it given his contract expires in the summer and he is yet to commit to fresh terms.
Asked how it feels to hear that his commitment is being questioned, particularly given what he has been through personally, Conte replied: “I don’t read and I don’t hear this but the people who know me can tell me that I could be not a good coach.
“But about the commitment and what I give the club where I work, no club was unhappy about this.
“Usually when I left the club they regret me a lot because they knew the way I work and the commitment I put into the club.”
The former Chelsea, Juventus and Inter Milan chief even hinted that Spurs are keen for him to stay longer because of his tireless work ethic.
He said: “I give everything for the club. Not only for Tottenham — for Inter, for Juventus, for every club where I was the coach.
“It is normal that when I finish the day I am tired because I work a lot for the club. And for this reason the club want me to stay for a long period.”
It does not get any easier for Spurs as they go to Manchester City tonight, facing what Conte reckons is “the best team in the world”.
Tottenham can take heart from their 3-2 win at the Etihad last term, when Harry Kane scored twice.
Spurs go into the game as underdogs, which may help given they have struggled with the pressure of being favourites in recent weeks.
Yet Conte said: “If my team is going to play with a team at the bottom of the table or in first, I put the same pressure — because for me the pressure is a positive.
“The pressure allows me to give 100 per cent. If I’m relaxed and I don’t have energy, it’s not a good signal for myself.”
AFPAntonio Conte’s Tottenham suffered defeat to Arsenal[/caption]